OUR TAKE: Conspiracy theories are a risk to us all

SA is in the grip of a deadly second Covid-19 surge. Thousands are infected daily, and the death toll is rising. Enter the nation’s political peanut gallery, whose members seem to think that spreading nutty ideas about Covid-19 vaccines is an appropriate intervention. 

Exhibit A: Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said that some vaccines are “not organic”, adding, “as African people we have our indigenous herbs”, TimesLive reported. Then, ANC eThekwini councillor Sfiso Mngadi called for all 5G towers to be dismantled, in a nod to a completely discredited conspiracy theory claiming Covid comes from 5G towers. Meanwhile, ANC Gauteng secretary Jacob Khawe said any vaccine not developed in Africa should be rejected, EWN reported. It doesn’t end there: ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe first said Covid test kits from China were contaminated, and then called for the unbanning of Ivermectin, a drug that should not be used for Covid-19 treatment (more on that below). Then there’s the ANCYL in Tshwane, which circulated posters urging people to steam their nasal passages with eucalyptus or Vicks because extreme heat paralyses the virus.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Government has a mammoth task on its hands, not only to secure vaccines but to roll them out at scale. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the vaccine rollout will be the most ambitious programme in the country’s history – more logistically difficult than running our elections. An estimated 150 000 people will have to be vaccinated PER DAY if the government is going to pull this off, AFP reported. Fake news peddlers trying to convince people that they shouldn’t get the shot is the last thing we, as a society, need.

Vaccines have saved millions of lives, prevented and sometimes eliminated diseases like measles and polio. Babies are vaccinated everyday in SA, yet our political peanut gallery is (thankfully) silent on that.

So why the attack on Covid-19 vaccines? Political relevance? Pure ignorance? Each of these politicians has a following. Each of them influences a segment of society. They should be called to order by all of us. 

This story was originally published in The Wrap here.