By Dr Teddy Andrew Mulenga
Nevers Mumba is a former classmate of mine at Hillcrest in Livingstone 1974-1978. He went the Pastoral route, I went the Medical route, but that is alright I have the greatest respect for him and he is an intelligent man and a damn good Preacher Man. But when he says no Covid Vaccine to be used in Zambia till our own Scientists have tested and verified the safety and effectiveness of the yet to arrive Covid Vaccine, this is where he seems not to understand the following…
- Zambia has no capacity to analyze a Vaccine. What Zambian Scientists do for any drug or Vaccine is to look at the research results, the methodologies of research, the conclusions reached, Peer-reviewed papers, by those who have conducted studies on such. You can’t physically break them up and analyze, as he seems to suggest.
- The World has reputable institutions like CDC(Centre for Disease Control) USA, FDA(Food Drug Agency) USA, British Scientific bodies, The Russian Academy of Science, Chinese Academy of Science and others including WHO. These when they recommend a drug or Vaccine, you have nothing to worry about.
- No one has ever said there is Vaccine or drug with no side effects. But what the Scientists follow is the benefit Vs side effects. Minimal side effects are acceptable in drug use.
- No one has said they with certainty know the long term effects of the Covid Vaccine as it has just entered usage stage. In the short term there is plenty evidence of their safety. The monitoring will continue.
- No Zambian Scientist analyzed the ARVs saving lives today nor the Polio, Measles, Small Pox, BCG or any other Vaccine in use today.
It’s therefore unfortunate for Nevers to send wrong signals to Zambians suggesting they should reject the Vaccine till some analysis is done. We have plenty of conspiracy theories flying around and anything indirectly promoting this is rather very unfortunate. Our Scientists have already looked at the available research and have advised we all take the Covid Vaccine when given the chance.
The plan will be to cover the Health workers, Teachers, the old, those with underlying health problems in a 20% first strike.
Let us not deflect these plans with wild demands!
Dr Nevers Mumba’s Response
I have taken note of the comment and feedback from Dr Andrew Mulenga in regards to my statement on the need to validate the coming vaccine. I wish to confirm that my colleague Andrew was my classmate at Hillcrest in the 70’s. Great fellow indeed.
My only concern is that he is focusing on what I am not asking. My position is simply to challenge government to ensure that they do the verification. They then inform the citizens about the processes taken. Yes, this is hard work, but government must consider it as the most important part of this vaccine rollout.
Andrew refers to previous inoculations which we took without question. This does not count. Times have changed now. Social media has been flooded with information most of which is not true but unfortunately being consumed by our citizens. We did not have this amount of information in the polio and small pox days which Andrew is using as reasons why Africans must just accept whatever is given without question.
The only way to give confidence is by mounting a responsible campaign to intelligently convince an overly enlightened generation that the vaccine is safe. Threats and political power are insufficient to suppress people’s views. What people need is respect by having government assure them of the safety of this vaccine. Governments have a responsibility to convince citizens on the safety of the vaccine. To defend the status quo is almost an insult to Zambians.
The five points raised by my friend Dr. Mulenga have very little to do with my point.
- That Zambia has no capacity to analyze the safety of the Vaccine: This point does not advance his argument but affirms my point. Zambians have the right to know that their government has done due diligence.
- The World has reputable institutions like the American CDC: This is a dangerous path. The Tuskegee syphilis Experiment of 1932 undermines our confidence in the CDC. Please google this unfortunate abuse of black people with a lethal vaccine.
- No one says the vaccine has no side effects: Wow! At least tell Zambians this and work on a research which helps us to understand what these side effects could be.
- No one knows the long term effects of the vaccine: To sustain such a position would make us a bunch of irresponsible leaders who can become a danger to future generations.
- No Zambian Scientist ever analyzed previous vaccines: This does not mean we were right not to analyze the earlier vaccines. As Africans, I think we are now of age and therefore free to ask questions. This is not 1967 but 2021. If asking our government to tell us what is inside the “food” they are giving us is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
I thank You.
Dr. Nevers Mumba