Sekatle waits on report on alleged Covid-19 vaccines deaths

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Limpho Sello

HEALTH Minister Semano Sekatle says he is waiting for a full report from his ministry’s officials before publicly addressing the issue of the five people who are said to have died in recent weeks in Leribe after being vaccinated for Covid-19.

In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Sekatle, “I will address the media on the issue once I have a full report on the alleged deaths”.

This follows widespread reports that five people had died after receiving Covid-19 vaccines as part of the government’s ongoing mass vaccination programme to fight the deadly pandemic which has so far infected 14 352 people in Lesotho and killed 399.

Leribe District Administrator, Mohlophehi Mohobelo, this week told this publication that five people had died allegedly after being jabbed with the Covid-19 vaccines.

He however, said he could not say with certainty if the vaccines were the actual cause of the deaths. He said they would only know for sure after receiving the post-mortem results.

“We expect the post-mortem results today (yesterday),” Mr Mohobelo said, adding, only then will we able to know what actually caused the deaths”.

However, social media has been awash with reports that the five had died from complications arising from being vaccinated. The country began its mass vaccination programme in March this year after receiving 36 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by France. Another 36 000 doses were received in June enabling the government to administer the second and final jab to all those who had been vaccinated in March.

These included essential workers such as health and media practitioners. The health ministry also vaccinated the elderly and those with life-threatening conditions like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

The second phase of the programme was launched last month in Leribe following the delivery of Johnson&Johnson vaccines.

One advantage of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine is that unlike AstraZeneca, only one jab is required. Mr Sekatle said they would be targeting the elderly and people with terminal illnesses who could not be vaccinated during the first roll out due to limited supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

Members of the security agencies, teachers, students in tertiary institutions and workers (including factory workers, mine workers, bank staffers, civil servants) as well as the general public will also be vaccinated, Mr Sekatle said.

According to social media reports, it appears the vaccines are being administered indiscriminately including to people with medical conditions which do not allow them to be jabbed.

In one of the local media reports, one Mosele Thejane, is quoted saying her sister died after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Ms Thejane alleges that her sister was on medication for hypertension when she was jabbed. She alleges that the doctor’s remarks indicated that her sister’s cause of death was the Covid-19 vaccine.

Contacted for comment, the Ministry of Health’s Head of Public Health, ‘Makhoase Ranyali, referred all questions about the alleged deaths to the ministry’s director general for health services, Nyane Letsie. Dr Letsie was not reachable for comment on her mobile phone yesterday.

Dr Ranyali however, said they screened people to ensure that those who are not eligible for vaccination on account of illnesses are not vaccinated.

“When a person goes for vaccination, that person must not been infected by Covid-19 and should not present any signs and symptoms of Covid-19.

“A person who is suffering from flue or other illnesses should wait until they get well before being vaccinated. This is just the same as when children are taken for their routine immunisation. We always ask if the child is not ill before they are immunised. Our Covid-19 vaccination programme is done in the same manner,” Dr Ranyali said.

The Ministry of Health and NACOSEC have since published online information advising people who are infected by Covid-19 to wait at least 30 days before they can be vaccinated.

 

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