Malema gives Sahpra 7 days to approve Sputnik, Sinovac vaccines - or else more protests

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  • The EFF marched in their thousands to the Sahpra offices in Pretoria on Friday, in contravention of the lockdown regulations.
  • The EFF have demanded that Sahpra authorise the use of the Sputnik and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines. 
  • EFF leader Julius Malema has vowed mass action if their demands are not met. 

EFF leader Julius Malema has threatened to engage in mass action protests including a protest outside the home of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) chairperson if Sputnik and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines are not authorised within the next seven days. 

Thousands of EFF members marched to the Sahpra head offices in Pretoria on Friday under the banner of "March to Save Lives".

Social distancing was disregarded and many protesters were not wearing masks.

The EFF wants the Russian and Chinese created vaccines to be authorised by Sahpra and distributed to South Africans.

They have also demanded that the Sahpra board chairperson be removed with immediate effect.

Malema, who took to the podium to address his supporters, said their demands were simple and he wanted all South Africans to be vaccinated.

Malema believed that government had failed in its vaccination programme because the regulatory body had not yet authorised the Sputnik and Sinovac vaccines. 

ALSO READ | EFF march for vaccines: Sahpra says it will only be 'swayed' by science

He claimed, without providing evidence, that there is a corrupt agenda between pharmaceutical companies and politicians in the ruling party. 

"We not going to listen to nonsense things like that Sputnik needs certain things before it can be approved," Malema said.

"What is it that is wrong with Sputnik and Sinovac that is not in J& J [vaccine]?"

Malema made further unsubstantiated claims about tenders being involved.

"If you are not eating, then no approval. This is how they run this country. They prioritise eating over the health of the people."

News24 previously reported that Sahpra's CEO, Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, made it abundantly clear that the health body would do its job without being "influenced or swayed" by anybody or anything, except science. 

Sahpra tweeted that the normal process for the evaluation of a vaccine necessitated that all the required information regarding product safety, efficacy, and quality be provided at the time of submission.

"In other words, all the clinical trial data for safety and efficacy from phase one to three should be provided together with manufacturing information of the product quality. The assessment is then conducted considering all information provided."

It said the Sputnik V application was a rolling review. Thus, as data becomes available to the applicant it is submitted to Sahpra.

"Sahpra only reviews products submitted to the regulator by a local applicant.  If no application has been submitted, no regulatory review can be undertaken. In addition, Sahpra is not responsible for commissioning or undertaking the research required to support an application."

Semete-Makokotlela said:

SAHPRA will not be pressured to allow the public access to any product that has not met the necessary regulatory requirements and been found to be appropriate for use in South Africa.

During his speech, Malema also laid down the gauntlet in respect to lockdowns and said if a level 5 lockdown was imposed on the country, the EFF would ignore it and continue with business as usual. 

In justifying calling people in their masses to March, Malema said the protest would be called a super-spreader event because they want the truth to be silenced and want to stifle political activity. 

News24 earlier reported that police have confirmed that they will be opening a criminal case against the convenor of the EFF protest for contravening the Disaster Management Act regulations. 

ALSO READ | EFF protest convenor faces criminal charges for contravention of lockdown regulations

According to the Disaster Management Act regulations, only gatherings of 100 people are allowed in an open area under the level 3 lockdown. 

The regulations also state that a law enforcement officer must, where a gathering is taking place in contravention of the regulations, order persons at the gathering to disperse immediately. 

If persons refuse to disperse police may take appropriate action which is the arrest of any person at the gathering. 

However, police did not stop the protest and merely monitored the situation.

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