A new Covid strain now reportedly accounts for around 10% of all positive cases in the United Kingdom.
Not much is known yet about delta plus, or variant number AY.4.2, and its prevalence may be because of a mutation visible in geographies seeing infections spike anyway.
A different view is that delta plus may in fact be somewhat more transmissible and a possible genesis of a next global infection wave, if not contained.
“It is impossible to say when Delta Plus may hit South Africa, if at all,” says a source, a specialist physician who does not want to be named due to intimate involvement in the national Covid effort.
“But what is certain is that our vaccination rate is too slow to prevent an outbreak of gigantic proportions, a devastating fourth wave, if South Africans don’t take care.”
Vaccine hesitancy, the source warned sternly, poses a threat to everyone.
Mike van Wyk, chief executive of Medicare24 agrees.
“Any new variant spells danger and unfortunately so little is yet understood about the behaviours of the virus. It [the new strain] would have to spread more in the UK and in other countries before a pattern can be established.”
But Van Wyk warns against superspreader events like Matric Rage in the light of a possible fourth wave.
“While you are not immune to Covid after vaccination,” says the expert source, “it has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of death or intensive medical care”.
If a fourth wave hits South Africa, our healthcare system will not cope any longer. Healthcare professionals are exhausted, many suffer post-traumatic stress.
“The pressure has been overwhelming and on many occasions the healthcare system was brought to a standstill,” the source said.