The health department’s most senior official, acting director-general Dr Anban Pillay, has reportedly requested an investigation into the conduct of Medical Research Council (MRC) president Dr Glenda Gray for making ‘a number of false allegations against government’.

According to GroundUp, Pillay addressed his concerns in a letter on 21 May to MRC chairperson Professor Johnny Mahlangu.

The letter alleges that claims Gray has recently made in the media ‘are damaging to Government’s response to Covid-19’.

According to Pillay: ‘These media statements cause confusion … and are likely to erode public support for behaviour change.’

Pillay also states that he has received calls about Gray’s conduct as president of the MRC on matters other than her statements to the media.

‘I therefore recommend that the Board investigates the conduct [of Gray] on this matter given the harm it has caused to South Africa’s Covid-19 response,’ wrote Pillay.

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, a leading medical researcher based at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, has come out in support of Gray, describing her as a ‘national treasure’, and who had raised important issues for the ‘common good’ and in the ‘best interest of the country’. Bekker emphasised that scientists must have the freedom to speak their minds.

[Picture: Simon Fraser University, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48837197]

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