J&J vaccine: President misleading the nation – EFF

Fighters say trial is being misrepresented and carried through as an actual vaccination process

EFF statement on Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinical trial

2 March 2021

The EFF notes with concern the misleading of the nation by the Cyril Ramaphosa's administration and lack of transparency of Minister Zwelini Mkhize. Minister Zwelini Mkhize failed to divulge necessary information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial being presented and carried through as an actual vaccination process whilst it is undergoing phase 3B of vaccine trials for Covid-19 in South Africa.

On the 10. of February 2021, the EFF in the Portfolio Committee on Health in parliament raised a concern to the Minister of Health and the National Department of Health on why the research presented to the committee was not inclusive of placebo details pertaining to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Minister of Health was presented with an opportunity to assert that part and parcel of the void of placebo details was the case because the Johnson &Johnson vaccine was still undergoing trial. Instead, Minister Zwelini Mkhize defended the lack of vital evidence and furthermore failed to clarify to the Portfolio Committee on Health that the Johnson &Johnson vaccine was still undergoing phase 3B of trials in the country.

The request for placebo details is primarily important information to note in the comparison of various vaccine trials for Covid-19 that other manufacturers were able to provide besides Johnson & Johnson. Placebos are a vital part of justifying the safety and effectiveness of medicinal interventions in clinical studies and provide researchers data for comparison in regards to devising new therapies.

It is shameful that the Minister of Health, Zwelini Mkhize, subverted the ethical process of ensuring that the nation and thus participants in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial are fully made aware that they are participating in a trial and not necessarily the actual rollout of the vaccine as communicated on public platforms as "Phase 1 of the Vaccine Rollout Strategy". It is further shameful and criminal that the Minister of Health abused the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority processes by presenting a vaccine trial as a rollout when it was only approved for research purposes.

The Economic Freedom Fighters thus calls on the Minister of Health to cease the misleading of the nation and publicly declare that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is yet to complete the trial phases and official approval by SAHPRA. The Minister of Health must categorically make clear that Johnson & Johnson is still undergoing a research process for which SAHPRA has approved as is other vaccine trials currently in South Africa. Minister Zwelini Mkhize must clarify that the current phase 3B that Johnson & Johnson is undergoing is meant to assert evidence based outcome of effectiveness, considering the peculiarity of the 501Y.V2 that is currently dominant in South Africa.

Lastly, to save the nation from the consistent mistruths and manufacturer bias the Minister of Health has displayed throughout the procurement of vaccines in South Africa, even to the extent of intentionally misleading the nation on the Phase 1 Rollout of the vaccine, the Minister of Health must be removed from office with immediate effect. South Africa deserves to know that the supposed Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, is yet to materialise under the reckless and captured leadership of Cyril Ramaphosa.

Issued Vuyani Pambo, National Spokesperson, EFF, 2 March 2021