Gaborone — Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BoMRA) has this month approved more COVID-19 vaccines in addition to AstraZeneca, says the organisation's Dr Nkaelang Modutlwa.
Dr Modutlwa, who is BoMRA director of product evaluation and registration, said this during a media engagement session in Gaborone on Tuesday.
The approved vaccines included Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Moderna, he said.
As to whether BoMRA was working with traditional healers, Dr Modutlwa said that currently there was no application of herbal treatment for COVID-19.
He however said the organisation worked with traditional healers to empower them to assist research organisations in generating data.
Apart from traditional healers Dr Modutlwa said "many products have come forth but with no approved information or efficacy."
Speaking at the same event, BoMRA pharmacovigilance officer, Dr Thabang Phetlhe said whilst it was essential to take vaccines, there were risks involved.
But, he said, the benefits of taking vaccines always outweighed the risks.
He explained that vaccines were meant to give the body immunity without the dangers of getting the disease therefore experiencing some mild-to-moderate side effects when receiving vaccinations was common.
Side effects were experienced because the immune system instructed the body to react in certain ways such as increased blood flow so more immune cells could circulate and raise the body temperature in order to kill the virus, he said.
In addition, Dr Phetlhe said every vaccine had medical occurrence adverse event following immunization which might include an unfavorable symptom experienced by a vaccine recipient, an abnormal laboratory finding, sign or disease found by medical staff.
However, he pointed out, these might not necessarily have a causal relationship with vaccine usage.
Yet another speaker, BoMRA pharmacovigilance and clinical trials director, Dr Partha Gurumurthy emphasised the importance of monitoring safety of medicines.
He said while health care practitioners and patients sought safe and effective medicines, Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) were common.
Dr Gurumurthy said any bodily system could be affected by ADRs.
The ADRs, Dr Gurumurthy said, occurred in clinical practice but often went unnoticed.
He said up to 35 per cent of hospitalised patients experienced an ADR whilst 4.2 to 6.0 per cent of admissions were due to ADRs.
Approximately 50 per cent of ADRs were considered preventable, he said.
Dr Gurumurthy said BoMRA had initiatives in place to address the ADR problem including reporting tools, advocacy and capacity building as well as pharmacovigilance training.
He said any discomfort presented by a patient suspected as a result of taking any medication should be reported.
BoMRA's mandate is to ensure that all medicines and related substances used in Botswana conform with established criteria of quality, safety and efficacy.
It does so through conducting tests, analysis of medicines and inspection of privately-owned laboratories.
Source : BOPA