The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has vowed that it will not compromise on COVID-19 vaccine standards and protocols.
Speaking during a webinar on Thursday (24 June), SAHPRA chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said the Authority will not grant approvals to vaccines that do not meet the required standards.
‘Science and nothing else’
“Where products do comply, we will indeed authorise. We concern ourselves with only science and nothing else,” Semete-Mokokotlela said.
“When we make a decision, we don’t only consider data generated from South Africa. We are working with experts – international experts – and we continuously review the emerging data around these vaccines.”
Her comments come in the wake of a planned march to SAHPRA’s offices in Pretoria on Friday by the EFF. The party is calling on the Authority to approve the Chinese Sinovac and Russian Sputnik vaccines immediately.
“The Minister of Health [and] prominent leaders have been vaccinated; that is why they do not care about our people. We are going there on Friday to demand that we vaccinate our people and open the economy,” EFF leader Julius Malema said earlier this week.
Reacting to the planned march, Semete-Makokotlela said the right to protest is enshrined in the Constitution, but hoped that protesters would comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“Gauteng has high [infection] numbers and we really need to make sure that through non-pharmaceutical interventions, these are managed,” she added.
Sputnik and Sinovac vaccines: Safety is ‘paramount’
She emphasised that the safety of the public remains paramount and that SAHPRA will make a decision on Sputnik and Sinavac vaccines based on the science behind them.
“We are evaluating the Sinovac vaccine. We are also evaluating the Sputnik vaccine. This week, we’ve received an application for Sinopharm. We are really quite busy as an organisation and the only thing we’re going to concern ourselves with is science,” Semete-Makokotlela said.
“While the authority understands that this is a pandemic and understands that delays have been experienced, it is important to indicate that the safety of the public is paramount and needs to be safeguarded.
“The safety of the public takes precedence. Wherever we are of the view that where the regulatory requirements are not met, we will not issue an authorisation.”