Scientists have warned that a new more virulent strain of COVID-19 could possibly spread again in South Africa but that there is large-scale natural and vaccine-derived immunity already in the broad population.
Researchers at the Africa Institute for Health Research in Durban have warned that coronavirus is still able to mutate. Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Shabir Madhi says that while there may be a new variant, there is no need to worry.
“What seems to be protecting individuals against severe disease is another arm of the immune system, which is known as a T-Cell immunity. So, certainly nothing to worry about, yes there might be further mutations, there might be a new variant but it’s highly improbable at this stage that a further variant is going to end up causing a surge of severe disease and deaths to the extent that we experienced in the past.”
Cases in Cape Town and Mpumalanga
The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate says 13 people have died due to COVID-19-related illnesses in the last seven days. Fourteen people have been admitted to hospital in the same period.
Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Patricia van der Ross says these numbers are low compared to the last two years.
Van der Ross says vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness from the virus.
“While our everyday lives have returned to near normality, the virus has not disappeared. It still causes illness and death. When you get the vaccine, you develop antibodies, so when you’re exposed to the virus, it reduces the risk of severe illness that may result in hospitalisation or death.”
Meawhile, the Mpumalanga Health Department has expressed concern about the increase in COVID-19 infections in the province.
The department says over a 100 COVID-19 active cases have been registered.
The department has urged people to be cautious as the virus is still in existence and precautionary measures should be observed at all times.
COVID-19 cases have also been confirmed in the City of Mbombela,
Health MEC Sasekani Manzini says people should avoid large gatherings during this festive season.
“Currently we are at 110 active cases. We have not stopped with those that have symptoms to present themselves to our clinics to our hospitals, we are continuing in terms of testing them. This numbers are as results of those who are positive currently with COVID-19. We always encourage our people to continue observe these symptoms, if they see that they have COVID-19-related symptoms, they can come to our hospitals.”