Acting Health Minister Kubayi on Saturday morning provided an update on South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in light of the B.1.617.2 Delta variant.
Delta variant in South Africa
Professor Tulio D’Oliveira, a member of the ministerial advisory committee, confirmed on Saturday the Delta variant, first detected in India, is now the dominant strain in South Africa.
Data on the Delta variant spread was extrapolated from sources in KwaZulu Natal, and even though reports from Gauteng are yet to be finalised, it is believed the Delta variant is the driving force behind the surge in cases.
The Delta variant has already been detected in more than 80 countries. Dr D’Oliveira said it “is very quickly starting to dominate the global pandemic”.
How this affects SA
Will borders be closed?
When asked if South Africa’s borders will be closed, Kubayi said the risk-adjusted strategy focuses on balancing lives versus livelihood.
Kubayi said it’s vital to focus on South Africa’s vaccination drive before steps are taken to close the country’s borders.
Will vaccines work with the new variant?
As variants emerge, all vaccines have been affected in one way or another. However, two-dose vaccines offer more protection against new variants.
“What we saw from the data from countries like the UK, if you had only a single dose, the effectiveness of the vaccines was significantly reduced,” Professor Helen Rees said.
Delta variant in Russia
Earlier this week, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova warned of an “explosive spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, with represented nearly 90% of new cases reported in Moscow.
When the death rate in Russia increased by 21.3% and more than 50 000 new cases were identified in Moscow, Golikova called for stronger restrictive measures and speeding up of inoculations.
At the time of publishing, more than 10 000 of Moscow’s 20 000 available hospital beds were occupied, forcing Russian authorities to increase its vaccination drive measures. Just 20.6 million out of a population of 146 million have received at least one dose of a vaccine.