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South Africa’s brutal lockdown 1: The spider at the centre of the web


IN MARCH 2020, the South African government, in lockstep with other countries, implemented a brutal lockdown on its hapless populace. One man dominated the country’s arena of Covid-19 hysteria, acting as both ringmaster and puppet for his paymasters.

Professor Salim S Abdool Karim provides a perfect example of how scientists and academics have been captured and compromised by global organisations. Twenty-one years ago he and his wife, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, founded the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). As their website shows, the couple have their fingers in many pies and are closely aligned with various organisations spearheading Covid-19 propaganda.

Karim was propelled into the national consciousness as the guru on all things Covid-19 when in the government appointed him chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19. His year there proved disastrous. He assiduously championed all the anti-science measures, including pointless contract tracing, unreliable tests, mandatory masks and vaccinations.

Karim also supports the destructive ‘zero Covid’ approach. The MAC regularly recommended lockdowns, devastating swathes of the South African population. Yet while he was MAC chair, Karim wrote a curious article for the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2020, criticising lockdowns for their punitive effects on the economy, the poor, and those with chronic diseases such as tuberculosis. Why did he publicly champion lockdowns while knowing their dire consequences?  

That the brutal lockdowns did little to mitigate the Covid-19 mortality rates has seemingly escaped Karim’s notice. Despite or because of these measures more than 100,000 people have died either from or with Covid-19 in South Africa since February 2020. In an interview in May 2021, Karim advocated scaremongering South Africans into fearing further Covid-19 ‘variants’ while ignoring the contribution of punitive lockdowns may have made to South Africa’s mortality rates. Contrary to Karim’s claims made in a recent interview, South Africa does not have a low mortality rate from Covid-19 but a relatively high one in comparison with the rest of the world, with the third highest Covid-19 deaths in Africa.

Karim is not averse to blaming others: he reproached the eminent scientists behind the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) for wanting, he claimed, ‘the virus to spread unchecked’. 

In another interview he claimed that Sweden suffered ‘substantial numbers of deaths’ because it followed the GBD pandemic plan. In fact Sweden’s Covid-19 mortality rate is 1,890 per one million, only slightly higher than South Africa’s mortality rate of 1,675 per one million. The difference between the two countries is that, unlike South Africa, Sweden didn’t shred its economy or destroy millions of lives by implementing lockdowns. 

Why did Karim paint such an untruthful picture? Why was he chosen to be South Africa’s Covid-19 guru? Why did the government ignore far more knowledgeable experts on disease in his favour?

CAPRISA, the ‘non-profit’ and exempt from tax Aids organisation he’s run for many years, and its ‘partners’, the funders that so generously remunerate him and his wife, offers an insight.

In 2021, as directors of CAPRISA, the Karims earned a total of R5.4million (£254,000) between them. CAPRISA also spent over £75,000 on travel in the same Lockdown year – a rather large bill in a year when global travel was so restricted.

The Karims have interests in all five of CAPRISA’S ‘partners’ too, in ways that must surely raise eyebrows at their ability to conduct independent research, as must the funding of these partners: the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of the Western Cape, University of the Western Cape, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), are all heavily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Columbia University has received $217million from the BMGF, the University of the Western Cape received more than $1million for vaccine development in 2021, and since 2008, the University of Cape Town has received over $80million (over $9.3million in 2021), mainly for global health studies. From 2011 to 2019, the University of KwaZulu-Natal received a total of $9.7million from the BMGF. 

Both Karims hold positions at the Mailman School of Public Health, Salim Karim as CAPRISA Professor of Global Health, and Quarraisha Karim as Professor in Clinical Epidemiology. Salim Karim is also Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal while Quarraisha Karim is Pro Vice-Chancellor for African Health at the same university. 

This incestuous web of connections does not stop here. CAPRISA’S fifth ‘partner’ is the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a public health institute heavily funded by the Department of Health, which has played a lead role in propagating Covid-19 scaremongering, unsurprisingly so, given who its own ‘partners’ are: the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United Nations and its subsidiary, the World Health Organisation (WHO). The NICD is also funded by Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), part of the African Union. Africa CDC is additionally ‘partnered’ with the BMGF, and connected with the self-appointed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine and the WHO.

The cross-pollination of these organisations goes on. The NICD is further funded by the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), another organisation that is ‘partnered’ with the BMGF, US CDC, Africa CDC and WHO. It is particularly disconcerting to see the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as one of Africa CDC’s ‘partners’ in the guise of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). 

The CCP was known to be an abhorrent regime well before its own brutal and irrational lockdowns. The ruling party persecutes Muslims, Christians and Jews, and is an exploitative and oppressive coloniser via its Belt and Road Initiative. CAPRISA directly collaborates with China’s CDC too; co-hosting a webinar in November 2020. 

It is hard not to conclude that the Karims and CAPRISA are highly compromised by their funding connections that provide them with such generous remuneration while having a pro-lockdown, pro-vaccination agenda that brooks no dissent. They must bear responsibility for NICD’s highly alarmist modelling predictions (up to 350,000 deaths) on Covid-19 used to push South Africa into lockdown. 

Professor Karim’s close relationship with the government and support for its health fascism continues as the government’s expert witness against a legal challenge by Sakeliga, a non-profit business group. Earlier this year the group, assisted by Pandemics Data & Analysis (PANDA) commenced litigation against the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla. It has asked the court to declare recently introduced health regulations – which in effect made permanent the Covid-19 emergency measures – unlawful and unconstitutional and to be set aside, serving ‘no valid purpose in terms of health legislation but are instead unlawfully attempting to achieve other aims’, but heralding a new, dangerous era of state interference and health monitoring in South Africa.

Tomorrow I will look further at the incestuous club running South Africa’s Covid policy.

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Karen Harradine
Karen Harradine
Karen is an anthropologist and freelance journalist. She writes on anti-Semitism, Israel and spirituality. She is @KarenH777on Twitter.

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