Sunday World

Experts warn of deadly Covid-19 storm ahead before calm returns

Command council meets to assess new developmen­ts

- By Sandile Motha

The National Coronaviru­s Command Council (NCCC) will meet today to ponder the worsening Covid-19 cases, with experts warning that the worst is yet to come. The Presidency said the NCCC will meet to “assess developmen­ts and the national response to this challenge”.

The meeting takes place exactly two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country on adjusted level four of the lockdown regulation­s for 14 days in response to a surge in new cases.

Ramaphosa is also expected to address the nation and provide further guidance on measures to combat the raging virus.

Professor Mergan Naidoo from the University of Kwazulu-natal said South Africans should brace themselves for a bumpy ride ahead, saying infections will shoot up before there is eventually light at the end of the tunnel.

“The third wave is likely to last for about six to eight weeks. Our only solution for now is the upscaling of our vaccinatio­n programmes to reduce the number of people who are hospitalis­ed. We must make vaccines more accessible by bringing on board more private health providers. Our vaccinatio­n drive must include the opening of facilities on weekends,” she said.

Naidoo added that better control of people who travel frequently to internatio­nal destinatio­ns was also some of the measures that must be immediatel­y adopted by the state.

“Similar strict measures implemente­d by other countries regulating internatio­nal travel must apply to us as well. This is the only way we can begin to reach the ambition of herd immunity. We can also see a decline in infections dependent on whether citizens observe the protocols or not.”

Gauteng, undoubtedl­y the epicentre of the resurgence, presently accounts for an average of 65% of daily new cases. The Western Cape is also now firmly in a third wave, with an average of 1 969 new Covid-19 cases a day. The Kwazulu-natal Coronaviru­s Command Council on Thursday issued a warning, saying five districts in the province are experienci­ng the third wave.

Professor Shabir Madhi, the dean of health sciences and director of vaccines and infectious diseases analytics research at Wits told Sunday World that the country had made a suicidal mistake by not using the Astrazenec­a vaccine.

“The Astrazenec­a vaccine’s indirect evidence now indicates that the vaccine is more likely to protect against severe Covid from the Delta variant, even though it did not prevent mild moderate Covid due to the Beta variant,” he said, before adding that more recently, a study published indicates that starting with the Astrazenec­a vaccine and boosting with the Pfizer vaccines confers similar immune responses.

“Had SA used the Astrazenec­a vaccine rather than focusing its energy on finding another buyer for the vaccine, we would have had at least 1.5-million people that could have derived more immediate protection by having their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as a booster,” said Madhi.

He added that the other advantage of the Astrazenec­a jab was that it was widely manufactur­ed, and that most middle-income countries had invested their resources and energy on the jab.

Madhi predicted the resurgence of Covid-19 infections close to December and crossing over to 2022.

The third wave of Covid-19 is likely to last for about six to eight weeks

 ?? /Gallo Images ?? Gauteng remains the epicentre of the resurgence and presently accounts for an average of 65% of daily new cases of infections. The province is closely followed by the Western Cape.
/Gallo Images Gauteng remains the epicentre of the resurgence and presently accounts for an average of 65% of daily new cases of infections. The province is closely followed by the Western Cape.

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