ACDP case to halt Covid-19 vaccine rollout to children postponed

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has been hit by legal setbacks after the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) was on Tuesday granted a postponement, with costs, to halt the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 17.

According to SAHPRA, the court case, which was brought against the authority and the minister of health, was initiated in October 2021 by ACDP, Free the Children – Save the Nation NPC, Caring Healthcare Workers Coalition NPC, and the Covid Care Alliance NPC.

ACDP and the other associated organisations approached the court to demand that SAHPRA suspend the rollout of vaccinating children between 12 and 17 years with the Pfizer vaccine.

Said SAHPRA: “The applicants asked the court for an order to stop the administration of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine [Comirnaty] to children between the ages of 12 and 17 years.”

The case was scheduled to be heard at the end of last month, but on the morning of the hearing the ACDP submitted a supplementary affidavit to the court and an amendment to their notice of motion.

“Owing to the late filing of the supplementary affidavit, the ACDP asked the court for a postponement of the matter. The court granted the postponement and ordered the ACDP to pay the legal costs of both the minister of health and SAHPRA,” said SAHPRA.

SAHPRA added that the postponement had led to a further delay that would impact the national Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the South African scientists who identified the Omicron variant late in 2021 have now reported two more Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 & BA.5, as the reason for a recent spike in cases in the country.

Said Ghebreyesus: “It’s too soon to know whether these new subvariants can cause more severe disease than other Covid-19 Omicron subvariants, but early data suggest vaccination remains protective against severe disease and death.”

Ghebreyesus added that this is a sign that Covid-19 is “not done with us”. However, he said the best way to contain the pandemic and protect people remained in the heart of vaccines alongside tried and tested public health and social measures.

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