‘We are not over this pandemic’ – what Prof Salim Abdool Karim says about fourth wave

Prof Salim Abdool Karim says SA “is not over the Covid-19 pandemic”, despite Covid fatigue setting in.

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, former head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, warns that the virus is ‘not done with us’. File photo.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Speaking on Algoa FM this week, Abdool Karim warned the pandemic is “not done with us” and predicted a new wave of infections was approaching.

“As much as we are fed up, tired and want to be done with it, I have to say that I don’t think the virus is done. This virus is still spreading and we have to be ready to deal with it.”

According to Abdool Karim, the fourth Covid-19 wave will arrive three months after the third wave comes to an end.

The new wave is set to begin between November and January 2022.

“What’s critical [about the possible wave] is whether we get a new variant, because a new variant will determine whether we have a severe fourth wave or just a mild one,” said Abdool Karim.

Earlier this week, Gauteng premier David Makhura raised concerns about a possible fourth wave, saying “it is something we are still worried about”.

“If we had more vaccinations we wouldn’t be as worried, but the rate of vaccination we have so far … we are not at 50% with regards to the single doses. Here in Gauteng, we are at 32% single doses for both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. We would be happier if we were at least 60%,” said Makhura.

Previously, Abdool Karim told Bhekisisa that SA won’t be able to stop a fourth wave, because “you have to have a very high level of vaccination to stop it”.

“You’d have to vaccinate 70% to 80% of the population, which we would not likely achieve in time. But it will likely be a small, mini fourth wave,” he said.

He said by the time SA is hit by a fourth wave, the country will have a better idea of whether new variants have emerged and whether the new forms of the virus can escape immunity and make vaccines less effective.

“Immune-escape variants worry me because they could lead to vaccinated people being at risk again. The fourth wave’s severity is going to depend on a balance between the prospects of a new immune-escape variant versus how fast and how many people we had vaccinated by then,” said Abdool Karim.

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

Unathi Nkanjeni

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