17 August 2022

Dr Mitha says when the Pfizer vaccine is eventually rolled out in SA, he would confidently take the prescribed doses – and even get his mother to take it too. Al Qalam reports.

A former KZN North Coast medical researcher, Dr Essack Mitha, says he was overwhelmed by media attention after he was picked to lead the South African trial for the promising Covid-19 vaccine jointly produced by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNtech whose vaccine has proven to be 90% effective against the killer virus.

Dr Essack Mitha – owner of the independently-operated Newtown Clinical Research center in central Johannesburg has been appointed as the trial’s national principal investigator in South Africa to assess and collect data on safety of the Covid vaccine amongst SA participants.

Asked by Al-Qalam whether the vaccine that was developed by Pfizer-BioNtech was halaal, Dr Mitha said as far as he was aware the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was safe for Muslims to take because no “live particles or live bacteria” were used in the development of the vaccine.

Taking into account that over 21 000 people, including many Muslims that perished at the height of the pandemic, it was extremely important to take doses of the vaccine when it is rolled out in the country by the end of the year, Dr Mitha added.

Dr Mitha, formerly of Tongaat, was also asked by Al-Qalam whether he would personally take the vaccine once it was ready to be rolled out in South Africa, he replied: “Not only will I take it, but I will also get my mother to take it as well,” he said confidently.

Although some people may experience side effects as all modern medicine today, Dr Mitha said there was no doubt the benefits of taking the vaccine outweigh the negatives, he said.

He said when his appointment was made public, he was suddenly thrust into the media spotlight, something that he was not used to.


Dr Mitha’s team is carrying out research to gauge whether the newly developed vaccine was safe and for how long the vaccine would provide immunity after taking it.

So far, South Africa’s Department of Health, has not yet secured doses of the new vaccines from Pfizer or any other company.

Designed to assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate, the trial will involve nearly 800 subjects at four sites across Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape in South Africa.

Dr Mitha said: “We are proud and excited to be given the opportunity to take part in this global research effort. South African patients will play a critical role in the fight against Covid-19.

“We are confident that the South African sites will contribute high-quality data to this ground-breaking study, and that medical science will prevail in this pandemic.”

Pfizer and BioNtech have already enrolled more than 35,000 volunteers worldwide, following the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

Dr Mitha is no stranger to medical research, something he has been doing for the past 16 years at his privately run Newtown Clinical Research center that is operating since 2004.

He is a full time Principal Investigator and has conducted more than 100 trials. Dr Mitha spends a fair amount of time in training and speaking engagements. He has served three terms as an executive member of the South African Clinical Research Association. He has made use of his experience to make sure that Newtown Clinical Research delivers high quality data and efficient recruitment across the various clinical trials that are conducted. He has been acknowledged as an author in various clinical trial publications.

More than a 100 clinical trials have been conducted by this site across a wide therapeutic range, including Asthma, COPD, rheumatology, Diabetes, HIV, Acute illness and Vaccines.

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