THE World Health Organisation (WHO) Zimbabwe COVID-19 Team Leader, Dr Lincoln Charimari has poured water on a common myth that COVID-19 waves and variants could be emanating from vaccines.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking during a virtual media training on Fact Checking that was hosted by the Gender Media Connect (GMC) in collaboration with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Dr Charimari said a lot of misinformation has been going on especially on social media regarding vaccines and coronavirus strains and waves.
You must note that COVID-19 Waves and vaccines are not correlated. All viruses including All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time through processes called mutations,” said Dr Charimari.
He added that most changes have little to no impact on the virus properties but added that some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation, decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.
He also said if a virus has the above changes, it is referred to as a Variant of Concern (VOC). The Alpha (first detected in UK) variant has been reported in 182 countries, territories or areas (two new countries from previous week). The Beta variant (first detected in SA) reported in 131 countries (two new countries). The Gamma variant (first detected in Brazil) reported in 81 countries (three new countries); and The Delta variant (first detected in India) reported in 132 countries (eight new countries).
“In Zimbabwe Delta is responsible for 79% of cases; Beta for 16% and Alpha for 2.5%. These proportions are dynamic and likely to change over time.”
He added that not less than six vaccines have since received the WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approval including the Sinopharm and Sinovac currently being rolled out in Zimbabwe. The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) recently approved the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Zimbabwe. To date, over 1 million Zimbabweans have been fully vaccinated.
“Six vaccines have been approved for EUL by who to date. Countries then chose their preferred vaccines depending on the available cold chain, among other logistics required to keep the vaccines safe. There are three key objectives in the COVID-19 response. These include slowing and stopping transmission, providing care for those who are ill and minimizing impact on health systems,” said Dr Charimari.
Meanwhile, ZimFact Editor in Chief, Chris Chinaka said Fact Checking was an essential journalism tool under the prevailing pandemic times.
“The media is a critical source of health information because of their ability to shape the way people think about and relate to health issues.”
He added that before publishing, it is critical to search for source of information and find out what else is on the website especially at the about section. Click links to see where they lead. Verify with other sources (use the news tab on google, it shows a news site exists, at least).