South African Cops in ‘Armed Stand-Off’ With Troops in Bid to Seize Cuban COVID-19 Drugs

Africa

South African medical regulators have not approved Heberon Interferon-Alpha-2 or similar drugs for use in coronavirus patients, and have so far only licensed one brand of vaccine against the deadly disease — with supplies yet to reach the country.

South Africa’s elite police unit has launched a probe into reports of an armed stand-off between soldiers and its officers in a raid to confiscate life-saving COVID-19 drugs.

Officers from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation or “Hawks” special police unit, accompanied by several officials from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), attempted to raid the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) depot in Pretoria over the weekend.

“It was really tense and a minister had to be called before the Hawks stood down and left,” a source told the South African Sunday Times.

The Hawks and SAHPRA were reportedly trying to seize 200 million rand ($13.4 million, £9.8 million) worth of the anti-viral drug Heberon Interferon-Alpha-2, which the army had purchased and imported independently from Cuba late last year to treat its own personnel suffering from coronavirus.

SAHPRA has refused to license the drug for use in coronavirus patients. The regulator has also “discouraged” the use of another potential COVID-19 drug, ivermectin, outside of clinical trials, and has so far only approved the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine — the Indian…

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