Maverick Citizen


Health officials slam ‘lunchtime talk’ for parliamentarians by vocal opponent of mRNA Covid-19 jabs

Health officials slam ‘lunchtime talk’ for parliamentarians by vocal opponent of mRNA Covid-19 jabs
Dr Aseem Malhotra with DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Twitter)

Health Department deputy director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp has condemned the decision to host a vocal opponent of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines in the Western Cape parliament as ‘irresponsible’. The vaccine views of British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra have been widely criticised by medical experts as misguided and lacking in robust evidence.

An opponent of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, was hosted in the Western Cape parliament auditorium on Wednesday for a talk on “ethical and evidence-based healthcare” – a decision that has been called into question by several health officials, including deputy director-general of the National Health Department, Dr Nicholas Crisp.

A poster for the event was emblazoned with the words: “Unsafe and Ineffective.” Malhotra has become a vocal figure against mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, claiming they are more dangerous than the virus itself, and even calling for a global pause of their roll-out. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines  are both mRNA vaccines.

His views have been widely criticised by medical experts as misguided and lacking in robust evidence.

In a Twitter post about Wednesday’s talk, Malhotra said: “I’ve spoken in the European Parliament, many times in the UK Parliament and today I’m honoured to be invited to deliver a lecture in the South African Parliament. Wilful blindness to horrific and unprecedented covid vaccine injuries is no longer an excuse.”

However, Malhotra was not giving an address before the South African Parliament (as his post tries to suggest), but rather attending a #lunchtimetalks event. This series of talks, newly launched by deputy speaker of the Western Cape parliament Beverley Schäfer, was intended to “enhance interparty relationships across all levels of Parliament”, she told Maverick Citizen.

Why anyone would arrange for a dissident to trash the science is beyond us.

“Dr Malhotra… just happened to be in Cape Town and I was able to get him today for a lecture on the topic of ethical-based healthcare,” said Schäfer. “As I am involved in international relations, I was super happy to get an international speaker to my first event. I then proceeded to invite all members from all parties sitting on the health committees, from the National Assembly, [National Council of Provinces] and our legislature to attend on a voluntary basis.

“The lunchtime lectures are merely to encourage open, healthy discussion.”

Schäfer did not respond to Maverick Citizen’s question about whether the concerns of medical experts about Malhotra’s vaccine views had been taken into account before inviting him to speak before parliamentarians.

Crisp, who was appointed as head of the national vaccination programme during the Covid-19 pandemic, condemned the decision to host Malhotra as “highly irresponsible and undermining of everything we as health professionals have stood for to protect the public”. 

“Why anyone would arrange for a dissident to trash the science is beyond us. We call on all members of the public to get vaccinated because we know it reduces the severity of Covid-19 infection, even for those variants that escape normal immunity,” he said.

The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness has said it was not involved in the parliamentary event.

“The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness… distances itself from the views expressed by the invited speaker [Malhotra],” it stated. 

“The international scientific evidence clearly shows that the Covid-19 vaccines are the best tools to manage Covid-19, and that it has saved and continues to save lives. The national Covid vaccination programme remains the policy of the department and we remain committed to its ongoing roll-out.”

These sentiments were echoed by Western Cape premier Alan Winde. He added that while it was not his place to comment on the role of parliament, he hoped that the circumstances of Malhotra’s talk would be investigated.

“I and my administration believe that vaccines have and continue to save lives. Those who falsely claim that they are a danger are wrong and they should be held to account for their views,” he said.

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In another Twitter post from Wednesday, Malhotra included a picture of himself and DA leader John Steenhuisen. 

“Honoured to be invited to meet with the leader of the Democratic Alliance party [John Steenhuisen] courtesy of [Beverley Schäfer]. We discussed ethical evidence based medicine and improving quality care for patients through informed consent. There is hope,” he stated.

Steenhuisen told Maverick Citizen that his role as a public representative and policymaker required him to meet with people who held “wide and divergent views”, before emphasising his long-standing support for vaccines.

“A 20-minute exchange of views with somebody who has a different opinion to mine cannot be an endorsement of, or alignment with their views,” he said. “I have been extremely public in my support for vaccines, including fighting for their introduction and their rollout, and I have publicly received both shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. I have also encouraged other citizens to do so on multiple occasions.

“I will continue to meet with people who have divergent views and engage with all sides of a debate because I feel that that is what an effective leader and legislator must do in determining his own position forward. I believe stronger and more sound decisions emanate from having a full view of all sides of any debate.”

Steenhuisen did not respond to a question about whether he was concerned about Malhorta receiving a platform before parliamentarians that could amplify a message of mistrust in mRNA Covid vaccines that has not been properly substantiated among medical experts.

Read in Daily Maverick:

Covid-19 most likely originated from a lab leak, finds US Energy Department – Wall Street Journal

Anti-vax appeal – court asked to stop South Africa’s Covid vaccination campaign pending an investigation

In an SAfm Sunrise interview on the matter, Steenhuisen said: “I think what is happening here is a manufactured outrage. I will continue to meet with people on all sides of an argument, because that’s how informed laws are made.”

International concerns

Malhotra took part in a BBC interview in January this year. Though the interview was not about Covid-19, he made claims about excess deaths and Covid vaccines. He said mRNA vaccines carried a cardiovascular risk, and called for the suspension of the vaccine roll-out while excess deaths are investigated.

In a statement after the interview, the BBC clarified that the “[British Heart Foundation] says that while there have been rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines (both of which are mRNA vaccines), overall myocarditis is no more likely to be triggered by a Covid vaccine than by any other vaccine… Covid-19 itself is much more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine is, and people who are vaccinated have a much lower risk of getting other serious complications caused by Covid-19.”

Malhotra’s statements in the interview were contested by numerous scientists who accused the doctor of pushing views that were misguided and could mislead the public, according to The Guardian. DM/MC


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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