Discovery sticks to Covid-19 guns: ‘Vaccines are safe and effective’

In recent weeks, evidence has emerged in media globally suggesting many who received Covid-19 vaccines are suffering serious side-effects. The focus has primarily been on innovative mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, with myocarditis emerging as a growing concern for young males. BizNews has reported on allegations in some detail. For the other side of this emotive argument, we approached Discovery’s co-founder and CEO Adrian Gore, a man often cited by critics as being on the wrong side of history. His position has never wavered – Discovery is emphatic that its data shows all of the Covid-19 vaccines to be “safe and effective”. The group, which dominates South Africa’s health insurance sector, provided this comprehensive response. – Alec Hogg

From Felicity Hudson, Head of Reputation Management at Discovery Group.

Thanks for being in touch, and for the opportunity. As you know, we have not shied away from communicating our position on vaccines, and have a very clear standpoint in this regard. 

There’s extensive evidence-based research, of a high standard, that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. This has been repeatedly published in multiple global clinical journals now. This is further confirmed by our own data and analysis, which we too have presented at various scientific forums. Currently, more than 80% of adult members of schemes administered by Discovery Health have chosen to be vaccinated, and the data show an excellent safety profile, and improved outcomes (high effectiveness) relative to similar non-vaccinated members.

The Discovery Health Intelligence hub showcases several studies to this effect, with the most recent study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, advancing the point to even show enhanced protective effects (i.e. reduced hospitalisation) of the (in this instance J&J) vaccine with increased physical activity.  

Over the past two years, our Health Intelligence team has worked with leading local scientists on a number of research projects linked to vaccine effectiveness. (I’ve included numerous links below for reference.) 

We engaged deeply throughout the pandemic, undertook extensive due diligence, and made volumes of information available to our members and the broader community. This included Discovery hosting several webinars with experts in the field of public health, virology and vaccinology.  Our recommendations were made strictly in line with the South African National Department of Health policies, and in support of the country’s position, which was aligned to the WHO and most other countries globally. 

Kind regards, 


Work published internationally relating to COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in various contexts:

  • 2 September 2021: The South African Medical Journal: The impact of routine pulse oximetry use on outcomes in COVID-19-infected patients at increased risk of severe disease: A retrospective cohort analysis
  • 29 December 2021: New England Journal of Medicine: Effectiveness of BNT162b2 Vaccine against Omicron Variant in South Africa
  • 10 February 2022: British Journal of Sports Medicine: Small steps, strong shield: directly measured, moderate physical activity in 65 361 adults is associated with significant protective effects from severe COVID-19 outcomes
  • 19 March 2022: The Lancet: Effectiveness of the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine in health-care workers in South Africa (the Sisonke study): results from a single-arm, open-label, phase 3B, implementation study
  • 9 June 2022: New England Journal of Medicine: Effectiveness of Ad26.COV2.S and BNT162b2 Vaccines against Omicron Variant in South Africa
  • 14 Sept 2022 New England Journal of Medicine: Effectiveness of Ad26.COV2.S and BNT162b2 Vaccines against Omicron Variant in South Africa

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