Kgosi Maruje III warns against covid-19 vaccine trials

GP Correspondent

As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic that has negatively strained major health systems, developing countries have their hopes pinned on their developed counterparts for cure.

As such, Botswana has been called on to exercise caution as the country
seeks permanent interventions to this crisis. A traditional leader in the North East district, Kgosi Thabo Maruje III has openly added his voice to the ongoing anti-vaccine trial in Africa. In a meeting with vice president Slumber Tsogwane this week, Kgosi Maruje III said while Botswana is under pressure from this public health scare- the country ought to be vigilant when approving covid-19 vaccines for use among her people.

The meeting held at Masunga kgotla, was part of a series of consultative visits the vice president has embarked on to get first hand information on how emergency response teams set across the country to provide guidance and expertise on covid-19 containment were faring thus far.

Putting on his advisory hat, as it is one of the responsibilities the Bogosi institution is entrusted with, Kgosi Maruje III said caution is called for more than ever because covid-19 is a new and complex disease yet to be scientifically understood. Failure of which, he warned that countries like Botswana could find themselves gullible to substandard vaccines which could further stress public health system.

“History has shown us that many people have succumbed to clinical vaccine trials,” he said. “We must be extra vigilant in pursuit of covid-19 cure. Let us try as much as possible to look within for homegrown solutions as well,” said Masunga, a media graduate who has revolutionized the institution of traditional leadership.

In response, Tsogwane said the advice was very relevant. He assured that the Botswana government was well prepared to examine any drug or vaccine trials and “not to allow just anything”. Adding that local research institutions like University of Botswana were currently working on finding a cure.

“Besides manufacturing respirators for COVID-19 patients, our scientists are also on laboratories trying to find a solution to this virus,” said Tsogwane. Assistant Minister Kgotla Autlwetse who accompanied Tsogwane also hailed Kgosi Maruje’s words as “invaluable advice”.

Kgosi Maruje III’s voice adds to the debate which has already gained momentum on the African soil and the diaspora. Activists and commentators have charged that the region is “used as a dumping ground” and “its people only reduced to Guinea pigs”