Scientists Are Concerned About Limited Access to Data About Covid-19 Decisions

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There is increasing frustration among scientists towards members of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee (MAC) as data around their decisions are not easily accessible.

Professor Alex van den Heever, who is the chair in the field of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance, said that people have limited information about the decision’s the government makes and this makes it difficult for them to implement their own preventative measures. Van den Heever says that it is this lack of reasoning behind the government’s decisions that induces panic, uncertainty and anxiety. It also makes people trust the government less and this, van den Heever says, is not the culture needed to overcome the health crisis.

News24 reports that members of the MAC have raised their concerns about the lack of data available to the public in previous meetings. However, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize says they have never denied anyone access when they requested the information regarding regulation.

The MAC is responsible for providing the health ministry with recommendations based on areas of concern. It is made up of 51 members and has four main areas:

  • Research led by Dr Glenda Gray
  • Public Health led by Prof Shabir Madhi
  • Clinical led by Prof Marc Mendelson
  • Laboratory led by Prof Koleka Mlisana

In an interview with CapeTalk Dr Glenda Gray, who is also the CEO of the South African Medical Research Council, said that it is now important to focus on how to re-enter society while minimising the transmission of the virus. Gray further explained that many patients are asymptomatic and therefore they need to place more focus on the vulnerable such as the elderly or those who have comorbidity. Gray, along with Prof Mendelson, submitted the MAC’s concerns regarding regulations pertaining to the sale of clothing, cars and operation of small business.

According to Gray many regulations in place has no correlation to how the spread of the virus can be contained and are unnecessary.