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'Earliest opportunity' for safe Covid-19 vaccine in mid-2021, says Gauteng GP

A safe Covid-19 vaccine could be available in SA in the next nine or 10 months, says a Gauteng doctor. Stock image.
A safe Covid-19 vaccine could be available in SA in the next nine or 10 months, says a Gauteng doctor. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/Alexey Poprotsky

South Africa could have a Covid-19 vaccine within the next nine to 10 months.

This is according to Gauteng-based general practitioner Dr Mark Holliday, who spoke to health minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday.

Holliday said a “safe” vaccine could be expected in SA by “mid-2021". 

“What we must understand about vaccines is that they are living viruses injected into healthy people. The effects may only show many months later or when the wild virus attacks people who've got the vaccine and those people become sick in an unusual way,” he said.

Holliday said for a vaccine to be considered safe, it cannot be rushed because it could do more harm than good.

“In the mainstream, respected academics in this country believe the earliest opportunity for a safe vaccine will be mid-2021 ... nine or 10 months.”

Speaking on Russia's “Covid-19 cure”, Holliday said doctors were sceptical of it because of the extreme speed of its rollout.

In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that his country was the first to approve a vaccine against Covid-19 that “passed all the required checks”. 

“Nobody in the West wants to use it. We don't really trust it and there are certainly a lot of questions around the testing protocols they used,” said Holliday.

Watch the video below:

Hope for a vaccine

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was hope that a vaccine would be released by the end of this year.

Speaking at the WHO’s executive board meeting in Geneva, Ghebreyesus said it was essential to continue using the tools available to combat Covid-19, adding that many countries “were able to suppress and control the pandemic”. 

He said the international community must also continue to “invest in new technology”.

“We will need vaccines. And there is hope that by the end of this year, we may have a vaccine. There is hope,” he said.


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