File picture: SAPS (Twitter)
File picture: SAPS (Twitter)

Durban cops excited about getting their Covid-19 vaccines

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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Durban: Being a man of the law for 28 years, Warrant Officer Nivi Lutchminarain puts his life on the line every day.

But when he contracted Covid-19 in December, he feared losing his life.

Lutchminarian, who works in the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit in Phoenix, said he never wanted to experience symptoms of the virus again.

"I struggled to breathe, lost my sense of smell and taste, and had a fever. It was one of the worst moments in my life. I never want to go through that again, and I thank God that He has spared me."

He said friends, family and colleagues have succumbed to the virus.

"That is why I look forward to getting the Covid vaccine this week. If taking it means I get to live a little longer and have precious time with my family, I will be first in line."

Lutchminarain and other police officers in Durban are expecting to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from Thursday.

Captain Raymond Deokaran, from Durban North police station, said: "It has been a long wait for us, so my colleagues and I are glad the roll-out will take place this week. We expect the Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be administered at Durban Central police station for Durban and surrounding stations."

Detective Marcel lyle Dorasamy, from Berea SAPS, said: "I am placing my trust in these vaccines. The success so far has been overwhelming. Doctors have taken the vaccines and they are the masters of medicine, so we should follow their lead. I encourage everyone to get the vaccine and to shy away from conspiracy theories, which is causing uncalled fear and anxiety."

The vaccine roll-out for the police was launched on Monday by Police Minister General Bheki Cele, Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi and National Police Minister Khehla Sitole at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Sithole and Cele were the first members to be vaccinated.

More than 180 000 officers are expected to be vaccinated at the 108 registered vaccination sites across the country from Thursday. According to the SAPS, more than 670 officers died of the virus, while about 30 000 were infected.

The country in the third wave of the virus, with more than two million positive cases.

The Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, is reported to be the driving force behind the third wave.

Scientists have confirmed that the variant is the most transmissible version of the virus. This means that it has the ability to spread faster from person to person compared to the other variants.

KZN Premier Sihle Sikalala listed eThekwini as one of six districts in the region where the Delta variant was detected. On Friday, the city listed Pinetown, Berea, Durban North, Phoenix and Chatsworth as some of the hot spot areas.

Meanwhile, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has authorised the CoronaVac vaccine. It is manufactured by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. SA is using the two-shot Pfizer and single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

More than three million people have been vaccinated, among them health-care workers, the elderly, teachers and now police officers and people over 50.

CoronaVac, like Pfizer, is a two-shot vaccine. The second dose is administered between 14 and 28 days after the first dose. It is also suitable for adults aged between 19 and 59 only.

"As outlined in the clinical trial evidence submitted by the applicant, most of the side effects following administration of the CoronaVac vaccine were mild or moderate in nature and cleared within a couple of days. The frequently reported adverse reactions were: pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhoea and nausea," said Sahpra chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela.

The SA Medical Association said it hoped the authorisation of the vaccine was not a result of socio-political pressure. Sama said the Ministerial Advisory Committee was not given any information regarding the vaccine's efficacy against the Beta variant (first identified in SA) as well as the Delta variant and was not sure if the MAC could proceed with a recommendation for its use.

“We would, naturally, want to know what the efficacy rate of the vaccine is for all variants, and how this compares with other available vaccines currently in use. We would also want to know how this vaccine would be integrated into the current roll-out plans, as a new vaccine with a totally different regimen and logistics path will add further complexity to an already complicated roll-out programme,” said Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.

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