DURBAN - A top third year University of KwaZulu-Natal medical student says the Covid-19 pandemic is now “confined to the unvaccinated population”, and he appeals to eligible members of the public to get vaccinated.
This comes as South Africa announced that those who are 18 years and older would be eligible for vaccination from September 1.
Mohamed Hoosen Suleman, who attends the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine and is among the top 10 students at the institution, said the benefits of being vaccinated far outweighed any risks.
“The statistically insignificant findings of experiencing adverse events associated with vaccination should not deter people from accepting the vaccine. Blood clots such as cerebral venous thrombosis and thrombocytopenia, associated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and heart inflammation such as pericarditis and myocarditis, associated with the Pfizer vaccine, are extremely rare adverse events,” he said.
The Delta variant, which has become increasingly dominant in South Africa, has been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, he said, adding that it spread up to 60% faster than other variants and was highly transmissible.
“We are now seeing a pandemic confined to the unvaccinated population. This again reiterates our call that vaccines are indeed safe and effective.
“When the virus is given the opportunity to spread and grow within the host cell unabated, that’s when the favourable mutations dominate and take over all other mutations. The strongest and the most contagious mutant form of Sars-CoV-2 survives,” said Suleman.
He said health-care professionals carried the responsibility of being transparent and instilling confidence in people by providing facts and figures in relation to the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
“Our public health policy is driven by the need to prevent disease and ensure lives are saved. Collectively, we have to invest efforts in halting transmission of Covid-19 by scaling up our vaccination programme,” said Suleman.
The student, who is a UKZN summa cum laude pharmacy graduate, said there was a critical need to combat fake news and misinformation, He encouraged the public to obtain information on health from official and verified sources.
Suleman was recently invited to address a group of 45 educators in the south of Durban after the Department of Basic Education noted vaccine hesitancy among educators as a challenge to the reopening and normal operation of schools.
He said his presentation, titled “The need for vaccines, now more than ever”, sought to outline the urgent need and necessity to ramp up the vaccination programme in light of the emerging new variants of Covid-19.