There's factual data that shows how COVID jabs were developed - SAMRC's Morar

Senior researcher at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Neetha Morar, speaking at a National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) webinar, said that a common misconception was that the development of vaccines was fast-tracked.

An elderly woman receives her COVID-19 vaccine jab with the start of the second phase of South Africa's vaccine rollout on 17 May 2021. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) hosted a webinar in a bid to dispel some of myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.

To date, over 16 million vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide.

But there are still many who remain on the fence, as vaccine hesitancy continues to play a role.

Senior researcher at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Neetha Morar, was one of the panelists.

She said that a common misconception was that the development of vaccines was fast-tracked.

"Because COVID vaccine was a global threat, global impact, for the first time in the history of science, people were given no choice but to work together. So what that meant was that everybody was able to put their resources together and put their heads together and egos aside in the scientific world and share information so that we can work collectively."

She said that as a result of this, and the use of historical data from past vaccines, the jabs were safe and would not be distributed if they weren't.

"There are safety measures, there are vigorous methods - in South Africa we have Sahpra, we have ethics committees that review all this information before it can be given to people. So yes, in some ways it was rapid but there is available, empirical, factual data that shows how this was developed."

The SA Medical Research Council maintains that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and not experimental.

"It's not experimental - there's lab research, animal research, phase one, phase two, phase three but there's also what you call phase four clinical trials. We then go to open-label clinical extension trials, implementation sites and that's where we are currently, where we know the drugs are safe, they prevent the infection," Morar said.

Siyabonga Nzimande was once hesitant but has explained why he eventually got the jab.

"I saw that glimpse of hope and I saw that opportunity to protect myself from severe illness."

He said that he was also prompted by losing loved ones.

"After seeing everybody passing away and people severely ill, hospitals full and cemeteries full, it shakes one's own understanding and then pushes one to research to find out what they can do for themselves."

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