Health minister slams misleading social media post advocating activated charcoal as defence against Covid-19 vaccine

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

Published Feb 20, 2024


The health department has rubbished claims made in a social media post about deaths linked to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The post claims that people who have been vaccinated are dying and further promotes the use of an unregistered, over the counter product known as "Nature's Choice-Activated Charcoal, as a way of prevent deaths.

“There are no reported deaths causally linked to Covid-19 vaccines, except for the three cases that the department reported about early last year,” Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, said.

Phaahla urged members of the public to ignore the social media post.

“The voice note has a potential to cause significant confusion, anger, and anxiety especially amongst those who lost their loved ones due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said that there was no evidence to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccinations were “killing” people.

In a statement from the department, Phaahla said the product, activated charcoal, was not registered with the body that establishes and regulates the safety, efficacy and quality of all medicines distributed in the country, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

“Some people drink it to relieve flatulence. If a person is on treatment activated charcoal may bind to the active ingredient and reduce the effectiveness of medication. Abuse of activated charcoal may also interfere with absorption of nutrients in the diet,” Phaahla explained.

In June last year, the Covid-19 Vaccine Injury No Fault Compensation Scheme paid out R671,000 after receiving 49 claims.

At the time, Phaahla said all the claims were adjudicated and finalised by the Adjudication Panel.

He said 30 of the claims had no evidence of temporary or permanent disability while the scheme has paid R450,000 for the three deaths while a total of R171,000 was paid for a permanent disability claim and R45,000 for temporary disability claim.

There was also a payment of R5,600 for a private doctor consultation claim. There were six claims that were assessed but still require additional information.