Dr Boitumelo Semete, CEO of SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said that they will not be pressurised by political parties to approve Covid-19 vaccines because “the safety of the public could be compromised.”
This comes after thousands of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members marched to the Sahpra offices in Pretoria on Friday, demanding that Sahpra authorise the use of Russia’s Sputnik V and Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines, News24 reports.
“It will be a sad day in the country when the regulator is undermined or influenced by any party,” said Semete.
According to IOL, the EFF has recommended that the government procure the two vaccines for quite some time now, and in February, Sahpra suggested that it was reviewing applications linked to these vaccines. Since then, the EFF gave the drug regulator seven days to respond to their demands.
However, Semete said:
“These essential requirements are consistently applied to all Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics that Sahpra has considered for use in the country.
“Sahpra, as part of its mandate, focuses on the safety and well-being of the public and no vaccine can be made available until it meets these regulatory requirements.
“Furthermore, Sahpra must take into account the local epidemiology, and specifically which SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern are circulating in the country.
“In essence, the EFF wants Sahpra to approve vaccines without adherence to the critical components of safety, quality and efficacy. This could compromise public safety,” she said.
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that the EFF’s actions were “dangerous and should not be condoned in a democratic South Africa.”
“Our country’s regulatory system should not be forced to bow to any amount of political pressure, particularly to authorise the use of vaccines at a whim, without due process being followed,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.