The board of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) on Tuesday said its president, Glenda Gray, did not breach SAMRC policies following a recent media interview in which she criticised aspects of the COVID-19 national lockdown.
In a statement, the board said it met to discuss the current challenges relating to the media statements made by Gray in her private capacity. It said it would not be instituting any further investigation on this matter.
“The board has discussed this matter with Professor Gray and looked into our relevant SAMRC policies. We did not find transgression of these policies by Professor Gray. The board has decided that it will not be instituting any further investigation on this matter.”
Gray has welcomed this outcome and said she remained committed to the work of the council.
“I wish to thank the board of the SAMRC for having acted with the requisite urgency in its deliberations over this matter, the findings of which I have noted with appreciation,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
She also thanked those who’ve shown her support her in this matter.
“I also re-affirm my commitment to doing all I can to the best of my ability to contribute to the national effort against COVID-19 and remain at the disposal of the minister of health and the Ministerial Advisory Committee in this regard.”
Gray, who serves on the Ministerial Advisory Committee, faced an inquiry after she made what Health Minister Zweli Mkhize called inaccurate claims that Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital had seen a rise in malnutrition cases as a result of the lockdown. These claims were published on News24, and subsequently clarified in the article. She also claimed that the phased lockdown was not scientific.
“One can argue whether the extension of the lockdown and these alert levels are justified, and I think we could argue that an additional two weeks in the lockdown may have supported the work that had been started and was critical … But the de-escalation, month-on-month, to various levels is nonsensical and unscientific,” Gray told News24.
The World Health Organisations and other countries have touted the phased de-escalation as the way forward.
The Department of Health’s director general Anban Pillay also called on the SAMRC to probe Gray’s comments about government’s response to COVID-19.
Gray had since clarified her remarks saying they were based on some of the regulations and not the nationwide lockdown.
The SAMRC board urged Mkhize and the Ministerial Advisory Committee to resolve the issue of statements made in media amicably in the best interests of all parties and the nation.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.