Outside the medical facility, Davids stated that she did not believe the virus is real, prompting severe backlash over the backpedalling. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Outside the medical facility, Davids stated that she did not believe the virus is real, prompting severe backlash over the backpedalling. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Doctors speak out against vaccine misinformation after Cape Town anti-vaxxer goes viral

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Aug 26, 2021

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Cape Town - With Covid-19 misinformation and denialism hampering the vaccination roll-out, the latest anti-vaccination rant by local resident Kouthar Davids has fired-up heated discussions online with opposing sides wrangling on social media.

Last Saturday, nearly 100 anti-vaccination and Covid-19 denialists protested outside Groote Schuur Hospital, against the vaccine.

Hospitalised with Covid-19 and pneumonia in December for nearly two weeks, Davids took to social media and used television interviews to raise awareness of her recovery journey with Covid-19.

On Saturday, outside the medical facility, Davids firmly stated that she did not believe the virus is real, prompting a severe backlash over the backpedalling.

Back in January, she detailed her experience as the youngest patient in a Covid-19 ward at the time of her admission, where she told of her arduous, yet inspiring, road to recovery, “Young Covid-19 patient from Cape Town shares her journey to recovery”.

Despite her savage battle with Covid-19, and her struggle to recover, Davids was part of a protest against Covid-19 vaccinations outside Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town on Saturday .

Davids told the media that the virus did not exist. She was part of a protesting group that had posters that read: "I am not a lab rat" (Cape Town anti-vaxxer goes viral for misleading facts).

Meanwhile, in a statement, local community radio station Radio 786, on which Davids had frequently presented, denied that Davids had a show or regularly featured there.

“Radio 786’s commitment remains to allowing a fair spread of information, reflecting the realities of the world we live in.Our standards are decided by a carefully considered code premised on truth and accuracy,” read the statement.

Davids was reached for a comment, however she did not respond.

Infectious diseases doctor and Groote Schuur Hospital Department of Medicine deputy head Professor Graeme Meintjes said side effects of the vaccine were rare, and if one million people get vaccinated, fewer than five people will develop life-threatening complications.

“These very rare side effects include anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), blood clots and inflammation of the heart. There are treatments for these side effects and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important that the medical profession and public are aware of these extremely rare side effects.”

Dr Lisa Frigati, paediatric infectious disease specialist at Tygerberg Hospital, said the point of getting the vaccine is that chances of hospitalisation and death after contracting the virus are severely decreased.

“Ideally, we would like a vaccine that also stops us from getting infected with the coronavirus, but until then, the benefits of reducing severe disease and not dying, decreasing the burden on hospitals, is why you should be vaccinated.”

Dr Frigati said that just because the vaccine was developed fast didn’t mean it wasn't safe to use.

“The reason that we have a vaccine so quickly is because of the massive political will and huge amount of funding that went into the development of the vaccine.”

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