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Experts suspicious of government’s R7.6 billion loan to ‘boost vaccination programme’

30-years old Nozizwe getting vaccinated in Phoenix, north of Durban to receive a vaccination. Picture: Unicef South Africa

30-years old Nozizwe getting vaccinated in Phoenix, north of Durban to receive a vaccination. Picture: Unicef South Africa

Published Jun 26, 2022

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Johannesburg - Experts say the government could be trying to force mandatory vaccines after the World Bank approved its R7.6 billion to boost the vaccination programme.

Last week National Treasury announced that the World Bank approved a 454.4 million euro (R7.6 billion) loan for South Africa's Covid-19 Emergency Response Project.

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The loan came after the government requested assistance in financing procurement contracts.

The treasury said the project would retroactively finance the procurement of 47 million vaccine doses.

However, Nick Hudson, the co-founder of Panda (Pandemic Data Analytics), said although the government lost the fight for mandatory vaccination, it could attempt to force it.

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Panda has been critical against forced Covid-19 vaccines, wearing of masks and lockdowns over the two years.

“We need to ensure that mandatory vaccination is a thing of the past in all settings, that the agencies that approve therapies of all sorts are set up independently of industry influence, and that all trials are conducted with proper oversight.

“The Pfizer Phase III trials were a joke.

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“None of these injections should ever have been approved for emergency use, let alone mandated.

“Note that Austria repealed its mandatory injections after a couple of months of failed effort.

“This thing will roll back, and there will be hell to pay for what has been done," Hudson said.

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According to Hudson the only relevance of the cumulative number of infections is that the vast majority of the South African population has recovered from Covid and therefore benefits from broad and durable immunity.

He added that there was never a good reason to vaccinate them and that the government should prioritise the well-being of the people.

"The whole narrative of pandemic preparedness threatens all of us.

“Public health should prioritise nutrition, health, fitness and general well-being.

“That is the best defence against illnesses of all categories and would provide the best return on investment,” said Hudson.

National Employers' Association of SA (Neasa) spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff said there was no justification for continuing the vaccination drive. She said the remnant of demand for vaccines has disappeared.

"Being fully vaccinated, according to the government's definition, entails also having a booster shot, and only 5% of South Africans have received the booster shot. There is simply no way that the government, regardless of any attempt, will further convince South Africans, on any notable scale, to subject themselves to this medical and social experiment."

She said they suspect the R7.6 billion was not for purposes of the so-called vaccine drive but as a payment for debt for vaccines that are no longer in demand.

"This is another example of irresponsible, wasteful expenditure, which creates a further financial burden that hard-working South Africans will have to pay for.

“Neasa believes that accepting a loan for a dead-end drive will be a further nail in our economy's coffin," said Boshoff.

Bishop Marothi Mashashane, who has also challenged the government in court on mandatory vaccination, said the loan was part of government efforts to cut debt-service costs by using cheaper funding sources in its response to the pandemic.

But that picture has changed because there is no longer a pandemic therefore, the government should redirect the money to address poverty and hunger in the country.

"This government is failing to grow the economy and yet taking loans which will worsen the country's emboldened fiscus and everyone is going to pay the price though not everyone will directly benefit from the same loan. We have enough vaccines that are even expiring, with people not willing to take a jab," he said.

Mashashane added that the government has failed to pay the R350 grants for three consecutive months, and the victims of the floods in KwaZulu-Natal still have not received the R1 billion to assist them.

"This country is so unequal with the majority struggling to put food on the table, and the uncontrollable petrol hike which the government could subsidise from this loan, but we know it won't happen under the clueless leadership of ANC," he said.

A sociotherapist who works with Covid-19 patients and other diseases that lead to cognitive dissonance, Dr Raynauld Russon, said the loan and the relaxation of regulations could be counterposed with mandatory vaccination.

Russon said the loan was nothing but irresponsible lending and borrowing from the World Bank and the news could be used as a diversion from the “Dollargate” scandal adding that “Rama can’t be trusted”.

"As it is now, the efficacy of the vaccines is waning. People who are vaccinated are also getting infected. There is a strong case to claim refunds because the vaccines are not fit for purpose," said Russon.

Professor of Health Science at University Tivani Mashamba-Thompson said the loan could be one of the cunning strategies to help use up vaccine stock. Mashaba-Thompson said she disagrees with the government and the World Bank that South Africa was the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent.

"Countries or settings with poor surveillance systems and poor access to disease diagnostics infrastructure have no way of knowing their disease prevalence, not to mention epicentres or hot spots. This is usually the case for many resource-limited countries i.e. most sub-Saharan African countries," she said.

Mashaba-Thompson added that it would be wise if the government used some of the money towards developing local vaccine infrastructure for Covid-19 and other prevalent epidemics and preparing for predicted future pandemics.

"In addition, there's a clear negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy and the management of other prevalent epidemics such as HIV and non-communicable disease in South Africa, particularly among vulnerable populations. Since this is a loan, it comes with a high-interest rate. It would be wise if South Africa used some of this loan towards developing local vaccine infrastructure," she said.

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