Severity of third wave dependent on public’s behaviour, warns Prof Karim

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Co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says the delivery of coronavirus vaccine doses is ahead of schedule.

It’s expected the next batch could arrive before the expected two-week period. The second batch of vaccines arrived in the country at the weekend.

Analysing the COVID-19 inoculation rollout in SA and globally:

South Africa has moved to alert-level one of the lockdown as the rate of infections eases out of the second wave.

However, a third wave is expected in June or July. Karim says government is better prepared for the next wave of infections.

“So the originally arrangements were that we would receive about 300 000 doses in the first group and then 200 000 adding up to about 500 000 they were supposed to be delivered on a fortnightly basis but I think they are ahead of schedule and so they might be coming more frequently than that. As it stands we now been expanding the number of sites that have been vaccinating so it’s quite likely that the next batches will come before the fortnight is out,” he says.

Professor Karim has warned that the severity of the expected next wave depends on the public’s behaviour.

“We are at a lower level of transmission we want to keep it there. And we definitely don’t want it spiking up again. we can expect that our third wave will occur somewhere in June or July if there is a new variant then it’s completely unpredictable and we can then expect a much more severe third wave if there is no new variant then our wave might be a smaller one,” he explains.

Resurgence could come earlier than expected

Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, has meanwhile predicted a resurgence of coronavirus infections at the end of May and early June.

Mahdi says that the easing of restrictions, the Easter period and expected cooler temperatures in the coming months is likely to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Professor Madhi told a panel discussion that the relaxation of the curfew, lifting of restrictions on alcohol sales, among others, could lead to a spike in infections even earlier than May.

“The challenge that we face is that based on the lifting of some of the restrictions and in particular mass gatherings as well as what we’re likely to experience during the Easter period, in all likelihood we will experience a resurgence as we head into the cooler months of the year because of the increase in terms of allowing mass gatherings which lends itself to super spreader events as well as in the context that as we head into cooler months of the year people are more likely to gather indoors in poorly ventilated areas. My estimate would be that we’re likely to experience a resurgence in South Africa towards the end of May, June but it might occur earlier,” he said.

While announcing the move to level 1 on Sunday night, the President urged South Africans to not let their guard down.

South Africa currently has 1 513 959 coronavirus cases and the country’s death toll is at 50 077.