SENZO MCHUNU: Misinformation over vaccines is deplorable
Amid the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, the government and government services here and elsewhere have shifted to the centre of people’s lives. The government’s main drive has always been to render public services that are not only relevant to the current situation but are also qualitative.
The challenges are immense, but through the concerted efforts of the government, health scientists, the private sector, civil organisations and the public, we have remained resolute in finding sustainable and evidence-based solutions. The current second wave has placed a strain on not only public resources and infrastructure but also the economy, and resulted in the country being placed under adjusted alert level 3.
With the world seeking a solution to the containment of this pandemic, health professionals have been on the front line, risking their lives and rendering services to citizens. Health professionals, scientists and academics have furthermore been hard at work developing vaccines, and a number of breakthroughs have been achieved in this respect.
The World Health Organisation, governments, health experts and a number of reputable pharmaceutical companies have advised on the availability of vaccines, and SA has made provision to procure such vaccines. The government has sought from the onset to provide accurate, scientific and comprehensive information to citizens, and the information regarding the availability of the vaccines forms part of such information.
The president, through regular addresses to the nation, has provided relevant and scientifically based information in a transparent manner, which has served as a guide. This openness includes regular updates on the number of infections, deaths and recoveries made. This has been a great effort to render public service in an open and transparent manner, including via regular engagements among South Africans.
In this regard, the government has been working with traditional and religious leaders, science and health-care bodies, as well as labour organisations on the headway being made.
This guide has been a source of progress and united effort, which has led to the advancements made to date.
A number of negative and mischievous reports have surfaced in the media, particularly on social media, concerning the vaccines and vaccination rollout strategy. These are calculated to mislead, confuse and thereby cause widespread panic among the public.
Some people have associated the emergence of the coronavirus with the advent of 5G technology, without any factual basis. These doomsayers want people to believe that this natural technological progression is responsible for Covid-19. These are conspiracy theorists purely seeking personal glory and preying on the vulnerability of citizens while setting us back in the fight against this deadly virus.
As the government we want to assure the public that the information on the vaccines that has already been provided is factual and scientific and any future information will continue to possess such characteristics.
Engagements by the president, department of health, relevant stakeholders and professionals, as well as information-sharing, will continue.
It is unfortunate and disheartening that information peddlers are making claims and allegations without any scientific basis or any peer reviews of their findings, leading to the misguiding of society.
We urge the public to ignore such false information and refuse to be misled by those who seek to take advantage of the most vulnerable members of society and whose toxic agenda is unknown.
Recent media reports that four truck drivers died at the Beitbridge border post due to congestion serves as a recent example. Such reports are inaccurate.
We call upon South Africans to trust in the government’s efforts and the information disseminated from all official platforms because such information is credible, factual and scientific. Furthermore, we ask that all citizens be critical and alert to the information at their disposal and want to assure them that there is no monopolising of information.
Let us continue adhering to the health protocols and the regulations in place. Together, we can get through this!
• Mchunu is a member of the ANC national executive committee and public service & administration minister.
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