Covid-19 deaths are likely to triple in South Africa – medical professionals

Most South Africans may have the impression that Covid-19 has a national mortality rate of about 50,000. However, based on modeling by the South African Medical Research Council, this amount will probably triple, says Professor Shabir Madhi.

Madhi, a professor of vaccine science at the University of the Witwatersland and director of the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analysis and Research Unit (VIDA) of the Medical Research Council, PSG latest Think big Tuesday webinar..

He told viewers that the official numbers significantly underestimated reality. Instead, along with other scientists, Professor Maddy is looking at mortality figures. “South Africa’s over-mortality rate indicates that more than 150,000 people are likely to have died from Covid-19,” he said.

South Africa remains the 11th largest in the world, even assuming that only 70% of mortality rates are due to Covid-19, with higher mortality rates than Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and even the United States. “This shows how powerful the virus is and how unsuccessful our efforts to contain it,” Maddy said.

“These numbers show how urgent South Africa needs to start vaccination of high-risk individuals,” said Janine Johannes, Group Human Resources Director at PSG, which hosted the event.

The government has put the Johnson & Johnson vaccination trial on hold due to a small number of cases in which vaccinated people have experienced a rare type of blood clot.

Professor Maddy, who is discussing these issues, finds it difficult to see who is most at risk, and AstraZeneca and Pfizer probably have the same percentage of rare side effects described. Said. Affected are 4-5 people per million.

The mortality rate since the outbreak of the pandemic in South Africa is 1,800 out of 1 million, assuming that only 70% of the excess mortality rate is due to Covid-19. The risk of dying from Covid-19 is far from the risk of the rare occurrence of blood clots from the vaccine.

“Unfortunately, South Africa does not have the same luxury as a country like the United States that can afford to suspend vaccines while another vaccine fills the gap. The lesson here is before making such a decision. It’s about really looking at the profit-to-risk ratio, “says Professor Maddy.

Of variants and vaccines

Covid-19 has mutated into a more powerful new variant. “Until last November, no model predicted a significant mutation that would alter the pandemic’s orbit,” said Maddy.

Both the British B117 variant and the South African B1351 variant carry significant mutations that increase the likelihood of hospitalization or death once infected.

Numerically, these variants are about 53% more infectious and 1.4 to 1.6 times more virulent than the original virus.

The South African B1351 mutant has additional mutations that make it relatively resistant to antibodies produced by past infections. “Therefore, the strategy of allowing the population to acquire innate immunity by allowing people to become infected with the virus does not work. Covid-19 simply begins to target that immunity with new mutations. “

The B1351 variant is also relatively resistant to many first-generation vaccines that target peplomer. This is especially true for mild to moderate infections.

However, these vaccines are probably effective against serious illnesses, which is why Professor Maddy is critical of the government’s decision to sell the AstraZeneca vaccine obtained earlier this year.

The vaccine is not very effective against mild to moderate illnesses caused by South African variants, but from severe illnesses, as suggested by the World Health Organization and the scientific experts who inform it. Very likely to protect.

“The sale of our AstraZeneca vaccine was a miscalculation by our government, which delayed us by a few months in terms of vaccination deployment,” Maddy said.

SA vaccination plan

Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize said on Monday (April 19) that the government hopes to inoculate 46.2 million South Africans by March 2022.

However, this is conditioned on the country receiving millions of vaccines that the country has secured from pharmaceutical companies.

“This tally does not include the 500,000 people vaccinated under the Sisungke Protocol, and we look forward to COVAX providing 1.2 million doses this quarter,” the minister said. ..

South Africa expects 31,200,000 Johnson & Johnson Jab and 30,002,310 batches of Pfizer vaccine to be offered in stages.

Mass vaccination

As of 18:00 on Monday, Mkhize announced that 343,420 seniors were already enrolled in the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS).

On Friday, Mkhize began registering the Covid-19 vaccine online, starting with people over the age of 60, as it prepares for Phase 2 of the country’s vaccine deployment.

The mass vaccination campaign is scheduled to begin on May 17, 2021, and Mkhize says it represents the country’s hopes after Covid-19 left a social, economic and psychological genocide. believe.

“For this reason, we have embarked on a national tour to assess the state’s readiness to deploy vaccines at the expected rates needed to achieve artificial immunity by the first quarter of 2022,” he said. It was.

Mkhize said he had completed three state visits and said that Houten, Eastern Cape and Western Cape understand the requirements and are happy to stand up on that occasion.

“Since the Western Cape Mass Vaccination Deployment Plan was presented, the state has taken into account the interventions that need to be taken to immunize approximately 5 million citizens in the region. I’m happy, “he said in a meeting with leaders in the Western Cape on Monday.

He assured Prime Minister Alan Wind and Health MEC Noma French Mubombo that the National Health Department had adequate vaccines in all states, both public and private.

“The Western Cape will be vaccinated with the number of vaccines needed to achieve herd immunity, so the state government does not have to procure its own vaccine,” he said. “Therefore, the state can focus its energy on vaccination distribution and logistics.”

Covid-19 stays here

Just as the common influenza virus constantly mutates and new vaccines must be developed each year, SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate and therefore circulate.

“The mutation rate of Covid-19 has surprised many scientists. They do not expect such rapid mutations, especially in the major components of the virus we are targeting with vaccines. It was, “Maddy said.

Currently, there is another variant identified in Tanzania. This seems to be even more problematic than the SA variant with respect to additional mutations that may confer even greater resistance to the vaccine. San Francisco also identified relatively vaccine-resistant mutants, he said.

“Even if a vaccine is successfully deployed in a particular country, no one is safe unless the global community is vaccinated. The subspecies spread fairly rapidly, especially in countries with high levels of vaccination. As a result, Covid-19 simply never disappears. In fact, I believe it will be with us for the rest of our lives. “

It is to control the scale of severe illness and the number of people dying. 10,000 to 11,000 people die from seasonal flu each year in South Africa, and Professor Maddy said it would be a positive scenario when the number of people dying from Covid-19 each year reaches about the same level. I did. ..

Johannes of PSG said South Africa will be with us for years to come and will need to get used to the uncertainty.

read: South Africa Starts Covid-19 Vaccine Registration for Phase 2 Rollout – How to Apply

Covid-19 deaths are likely to triple in South Africa – medical professionals

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