Picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
Picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Covid-19: NFP to go to court in bid to legalise Ivermectin

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

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Durban – As opposition parties and organised labour continue to slam the government over its handling of the strategy to timeously secure and roll out an effective Covid-19 vaccine, the National Freedom Party has threatened to drag the government to court to advocate for its preferred drug.

The NFP is pushing the government to procure the Ivermectin drug and roll it out to citizens as treatment while a vaccine is being awaited.

On Sunday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize indicated that South Africa had already procured Covax, which would arrive at the beginning of the first quarter of the year. About 10% of the population would be vaccinated.

Mkhize said a financing strategy was being worked on with the private sector, and there were negotiations with other manufacturers for more vaccines to help vaccinate 57% more people. He said the government planned to immunise 67% of the population by the end of the year to build herd immunity.

NFP MP Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam said the party was prepared to wage a legal battle if the government refused to ensure Invermectin was administered to South Africans who contracted the virus while the country was waiting for a vaccine.

“Many people are dying and infections are averaging around 17 000 now. By the time this vaccine comes, many people will be dead. If there is proof around the world that this drug is working, we don’t understand why we are not using it,” Shaik Emam said.

The NFP has, through its lawyers, Subrayan Naidoo Attorneys, threatened to drag Mkhize to court if he does not respond favourably to its request to discuss its preferred drug as a vaccine for South Africa.

The party pointed out the Covax vaccine was expensive and had not yet been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

The antiparasitic Invermectin drug is, however, illegal in South Africa because it has not been approved by the SAHPRA. However, the NFP insists on an audience with Mkhize and the immediate testing of the drug by the SAHPRA.

Attorney Prabashni Subrayan Naidoo said: “Should we not receive a favourable response from you by close of business on Wednesday, 6 January, we hold instructions to approach the High Court of SA for urgent relief.”

Last month, the SAHPRA stressedit had not approved Invermectin, and that any attempt to import it to South Africa would be illegal.

“Ivermectin is not indicated nor approved by SAHPRA for use in humans. There is no confirmatory data on Ivermectin available as yet for its use in the management of Covd-19 infections,” SAHPRA said.

The push by the NFP comes as Cosatu and its biggest affiliate, Nehawu, joined political parties in slamming Mkhize for his Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy – they accused the government of having failed to expedite the securing of the effective vaccines.

Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla accused Mkhize of making vague commitments during his briefing on the acquisition and distribution strategy of the vaccine in South Africa.

“What the minister presented is bunk and the country should not accept it. South Africans are familiar with the egregious policy failures, with deadly consequences, as we saw with the mismanagement of the Aids pandemic,” Pamla said.

He accused the government of engaging in a “public relations exercise”.

“This is hiding the fact that there are 40 countries that have already begun immunising their people, some since December, and some are South Africa’s peers in the middle-income bracket,” Pamla said.

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the government was “caught napping while we are facing a deadly pandemic that has killed millions of people across the world”.

Political Bureau

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