Rorisang Kgosana
Premium Journalist
1 minute read
28 Oct 2021
5:40 am

Fortuitous dip in Covid infections

Rorisang Kgosana

Millions who did not return for their second dose could be the ones experiencing infections, possibly opening the door for new variants.

As the country sees one of the lowest rates of Covid infections this week and surprisingly no surge in infections during political rallies, the millions of South Africans who did not return for their second dose could be the ones experiencing breakthrough infections, while possibly opening the door for new variants, said experts.

The country recorded a low 331 new Covid infections and 53 deaths on Tuesday, with a low positivity rate of 1%.

This was despite the many recent political rallies and gatherings, which surprisingly did not contribute to any spike in infections, said director of the KZN Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Tulio de Oliveira.

This was because the country had just come out of a massive third wave, meaning more people had been infected.

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“This temporarily gives South Africa a break,” he said.

It was a fortunate coincidence the election date came when the country had a low infection rate.

With 21.7 million vaccines administered by Tuesday evening, only half of those jabbed were fully vaccinated.

Instead, more than 14 million people had not returned for their second jab, meaning they could have breakthrough infections, said Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes.

“They are poorly protected. Now it is election time and we can say there will be strict distancing but … election officials can’t do anything about what people do outside the voting stations.

“It’s concerning that there is incomplete vaccination … and also the fact that the vast majority of South Africans have had no vaccination at all…

“I think we might see the fourth wave much sooner than January…

“The other unknown forecast is new variants pitching up that our present vaccines might not protect against so well,” she said.