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Religious leaders open to Covid-19 vaccine

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.

Published Dec 17, 2020

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Durban - As a growing number of countries begin vaccinating their citizens against Covid-19, some religious leaders in South Africa have indicated that they are open to a vaccine.

This after the country’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s “devil” outburst this past week

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During a closing prayer at a thanksgiving ceremony at Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni, Justice Mogoeng said any Covid-19 vaccine that was linked to the devil should be destroyed.

"I lock out any vaccine that is not of you. If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse triple six in the lives of people, meant to corrupt their DNA, any such vaccine, Lord God Almighty, may it be destroyed, in the name of Jesus."

A few days later he said that his prayer was misunderstood and that not all vaccines corrupted the DNA of people.

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However, not everyone agreed.

Cardinal Wilfred Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban said the church had no objection to a vaccine so long as it was morally justified.

"There are parameters to accepting a vaccine. Like with anything produced, the vaccine must be morally justified, the morality of the vaccine's side-effects as well as how it is produced must be looked at."

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Cardinal Wilfred Napier. Picture: File

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha said the world was waiting for an effective vaccine that would reduce the impact of Covid-19.

"The SA Hindu Maha Sabha supports any scientifically tested and approved vaccine that will heal the afflicted and save lives.

"The Maha Sabha also believes that such a vaccine must be made available to the poor and disadvantaged in the global south which is Africa, South America, and Asia."

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Trikamjee said if the vaccine was distributed on the basis of affordability, then only the global north countries would benefit.

"Some are already planning to selfishly stockpile. All notions of our common humanitarianism and collective sharing and caring have been relegated to sound bytes by opportunistic leaders.

"A just and fair approach would be to initially make the vaccine available to all front line healthcare workers globally. Justice and fairness must trump profits."

Ahmed Mahomedy, chairperson of the Jamiatul Ulama in KZN, declined to comment on the basis that he did not have sufficient information about the vaccine.

Dr Faisal Suliman, chairperson of the South African Muslim Network said he believed Chief Justice Mogoeng was merely expressing his view as a Christian.

"The prayer should have no bearing on his ability to his job."

With regards to the vaccine, Suliman said he believed more research and scepticism needed to be done before it is released to South Africans.

"Normally, vaccines take years to develop and the Covid-19 vaccines are being done with such speed. If after the adequate research is done, we have no objection to the vaccine and would accept it as any other vaccine that has been introduced to the world."

Meanwhile, around the world, at least 78 vaccines are in development. Thirteen are said to be in the third stage of trials. Seven have been approved for limited use in some countries.

The Pfizer BioNtech vaccine (BNT162b2) reported to be 95% effective in preventing infection, was the first to be approved in the UK earlier this month and authorised by several countries for emergency use.

The vaccine is expected to be rolled out to hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities in America this week.

The vaccine uses a synthetic version of a molecule called “messenger RNA” to boost the body's immune system and is said to have mild side effects.

The trial results of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine (ChAdOx1nCov-19) developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca uses a disabled virus, called the chimpanzee adenovirus, to carry the vaccine. This vaccine also had mild side effects.

Other vaccines include the Moderna vaccine, which has also been put forward for emergency use in America and some European countries.

According to news agency, IANS, the Serum Institute of India has applied for emergency use authorisation for Covishield, the first made in India Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine was developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and will be manufactured by the Serum Institute.

Four of the vaccines are being trialled in South Africa which include Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on Monday was confirmed by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to be the first company to register a Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Sahpra also confirmed that government expects to receive its first set of vaccines in the second quarter of next year.

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Covid-19

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