The South African Communist Party (SACP) has accused the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) of being “captured by Western medicine”.
Speaking at the Moses Kotane memorial lecture on Sunday, SACP first deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila said that SAHPRA was using delay tactics over Cuba’s Covid-19 vaccine registration process, Jacaranda FM reported.
“Apart from Europe and the United States, SAHPRA seems to delay the registration of medicine and vaccines from other countries across the globe. When these countries tell SAHPRA to jump in regards to their medicine, the institution says how high, but that it is not the case with others as they always tell us about its terrible procedures. I believe that SAHPRA has no reason why it hasn’t been utilising medicine from Cuba,” he said.
Aside from SACP, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has also called for the government to consider procuring vaccines from Cuba, among others.
This comes as South Africa kicked off its second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out last week, which has seen 167 318 people over the age of 60 and those with comorbidities getting vaccinated as of 23 May.
So far 480 665 healthcare workers have been received their vaccine jabs under the Sisonke Programme.
Cuba is said to be developing four vaccines:
- Soberana 1 and Soberana 2 produced by the Finlay Institute of Vaccines;
- Abdala and Mambisa produced by the Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología.
All these vaccines have yet to complete clinical trials according to AFP. However, Cuba began immunising members of the public almost two weeks ago.
While Abdala has completed its phase three trial, the results are still being analysed and Soberana 2 was said to have completed the final trial phase within days.
This is after phase two results showed positive results in terms of efficacy and safety according to the authorities.
The communist state had initially planned to roll-out its vaccine programme to the public in June, after authorisation.
Cuba has a long tradition of making its own vaccines, dating back to the 1980s, due to sanctions posed by the US.
Nearly 80% of its vaccines are produced locally, and Cuba is working on five Covid-19 candidate vaccines.
If one of them gets the green light, it will be the first Covid-19 vaccine developed in Latin America. Cuba has not bought or sought Covid-19 vaccines from elsewhere.