There are mixed feelings in Soweto as South Africa await rollout of COVID-19 vaccination across the country. The Southern African nation is expecting its first batch of the jabs by the end of this month.
Josephine Hlomuka is a peanut seller. The 82-year old said trust for the vaccine is simply not there. “I’m afraid, because always when a person gets an injection, they just go. So we don’t trust it”, she said.
Tshegofatso Mdluli has been unemployed for a year. The 22-year old who used to work in the retail industry is adopting the ‘’wait and see’’ approach.
“When one of the parliament people injects, and something like that, or a sick person injects, and he becomes okay, I’ll be sure, and then I’ll be good with it, and I’ll also vaccinate”, he said.
The transmissible nature of the coronavirus variants is leading South Africa to grapple with unprecedented resurgence. The country is the hardest hit on the continent with 1.4 million cases. There are 41,000 fatalities till date.
Meanwhile, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) on Wednesday approved the “controlled” use of anti-parasitic agent ivermectin on humans. This reverses a decision to ban the drug last month over unproven claims that it can treat COVID-19.
Ivermectin is one of a string of generic medications tested as a potential cure for the virus since beginning of the pandemic. The prophylaxis is mainly used to kill parasites such as head lice on both animals and people. It has been widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s to treat river blindness.
Scientists say there is not yet enough evidence to promote the drug as a remedy for coronavirus, leaving governments undecided over whether or not to limit its consumption amid surging demand.
South Africa, where ivermectin is usually registered for veterinary use but not forbidden for humans, saw its national health products authority block imports of the anti-parasitic in December over “lack of clinical evidence”.