Covid-19 vaccine - SCO countries lead the way

by Adv Ajay Sooklal, Legal and Economic Diplomacy Specialist and Kirtan Bhana, The Diplomatic Society

19 October 2020

Before Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister for Health for South Africa, and his wife Dr May Mkhize tested positive for the Covid-19 corona virus, the Minister was engaging various Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Pretoria, South Africa, in a mark of solidarity during this global pandemic. As a qualified and experienced medical doctor Dr May Mkhize was also working with communities in need of support and guidance in these unprecedented circumstances.

Photo: (l-r) Advocate Ajay Sooklal, Mr Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health for South Africa and Mr Chua Thai Keong, High Commissioner of Singapore. Ambassador Tumysh hosted Minister Zweli Mkhize at his residence in Pretoria.

As Minister Mkhize and his wife recovers at home, he sends heartfelt gratitude for all the well wishes from the diplomatic community. He urges all to continue practicing safe and healthy behaviour.

SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) members Kazakhstan, Russia, China and India have taken the lead in developing a vaccine. In Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Healthcare are carrying out clinical trials of QazCovid-in vaccine. The Kazakh Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems (RIBSP), developers of the vaccine, first tested it on themselves.

According to the press service, “the scientists developed increasing immunity. The test results showed the safety and high immunogenicity of the vaccine. All employees feel good and continue to work.”

The National Scientific Center of Phthisiopulmonology and Center for Clinical Medicine and Research will run the trials. “We are grateful to fellow citizens for such support and confidence in our science,” said Kazakh Deputy Minister of Education and Science Miras Daulenov.
Scientific knowledge and research should be accessible to all and not be manipulated for the benefit of a few. This pandemic has certainly brought into sharp focus the wide socio-economic chasm that have been created by selfish and arrogant human behaviour. The pandemic can afflict anyone, young and old, and any gender; it easily crosses borders, man-made and natural.

South Africa and India have proposed for a waiver of Intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines to the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Over 300 civil society organizations have rallied behind the call for the waiver and are appealing to member countries to support the proposal.

Members of the Diplomatic community here in South Africa have sent well wishes for a speedy recovery to Minister Mhkize and to Dr. May Mkhize who has been hospitalized, while the Minister is in self isolation.