'Our vaccines are safe' — Ramaphosa on growing fears of Delta variant

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa says there is evidence that the vaccines that the government is currently rolling out are safe. Stock image.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says there is evidence that the vaccines that the government is currently rolling out are safe. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday allayed the fears of his citizens saying the vaccines that the country has secured thus far are “safe, effective and save lives”. 

“There is evidence that the vaccines we are using in South Africa are effective against the Delta variant,” said Ramaphosa.

During his address, Ramaphosa announced that the country was now on adjusted level 4 lockdown in a bid to further stop the increasing number of infections and ease the burden on the health sector.

On the new Delta variant which was first discovered in India and is now in 85 countries, Ramaphosa said, “The Delta variant spread like wildfire in India in an alarming manner.”

“The Delta variant has now been detected in five of our provinces, namely the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape. The evidence we have is that the Delta variant is rapidly displacing the Beta variant, which has been dominant in our country until now. We are concerned about the rapid spread of this variant.”

But he assured the country that there was nothing to worry about and issued a warning to those who are spreading fake news about the vaccines. 

“You are spreading panic, fear and confusion at a time when we can ill-afford it. The scientific evidence before us shows that vaccines work,” he said on the effectiveness in preventing severe illness or hospitalisation from the new variant.

Ramaphosa said: “The vaccine ministerial advisory committee will continue to consider all data at its disposal and will adapt its advice as and when new evidence emerges. We must also remember that some vaccinated people may still become infected, regardless of variant, because no vaccine is 100% effective.” 

He explained that, “where vaccinated people do get infected, the symptoms tend to be mild.”

“The most important thing is that the vaccines we are rolling out will protect you against severe disease, hospitalisation and, most importantly, death.”

He reminded SA to continue to follow the public health guidelines even when vaccinated.

He paid homage to dedicated medical professionals, healthcare workers and scientists who have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. “We owe them all a debt of gratitude for their professionalism and their dedication,” he said.

Taking aim at EFF leader Julius Malema, who contravened lockdown regulations by leading his supporters in a march against the vaccines at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) offices, Ramaphosa said, “It is therefore extremely distressing when political leaders launch personal attacks against such people for doing the job they have been assigned to do.

“We must remember that Sahpra is an independent regulator that focuses only on scientific evidence to ensure safety, quality and efficacy in the interest of public health.

“Sahpra must be allowed to do its job without intimidation or political influence so that when vaccines are approved the public can be confident that the vaccines are safe, of good quality and will work.”

He reminded the country that “we are all in this together”.

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