South Africa is already in its fifth wave of Covid infections led by the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 lineage, which may resemble the previous wave in size and severity, according to health experts.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Wednesday announced the country’s largest increase in new cases since January of 10,017 and an increase of 164 hospital admissions, with a positive rate of 25.3 percent.
Although the fifth wave was likely less severe, according to vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi, SA has been in a fifth wave in the past two to three weeks, most notably Gauteng, as it may have peaked with the recent revival.
“Most importantly, hospitalization and mortality rates have increased, but they are substantially lower than the first three waves and possibly even lower than those of the omicron wave,” he said.
Madhi also said that the revival should be interpreted with caution, especially when trying to make comparisons with the past, and although there was no need to panic, the goal should primarily be to vaccinate at least 90% of the women. people over the age of 50 with three doses.
“The blockade will only be harmful and of limited value in addressing the rebirth. There is now broad immunity against severe Covid from past infections, “she said.
Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, said the current rate of infections confirmed that AS had been within the new wave for some time.
However, he said, there was no sign that BA.4 and BA.5 caused more severe disease than BA.1 and BA.2.
“The incidence of cases is now at 11.9 per 100,000 and up 30.4 percent of the previous peak, but that’s okay and we shouldn’t read it with fear, anxiety or panic,” he said.
“The situation is different than it was two years ago, even if it came at a price. At this stage, two years after the pandemic began, SA did not have high levels of immunity; many people have been infected, so they now have natural immunity combined with acquired immunity. ”
The health department said SA was still on the verge of the fifth wave and that it was still too early to declare it.
However, to avoid an increase in hospitalizations, people should make sure they are vaccinated and boosted.
“We urge people to vaccinate and adhere to preventive measures. Almost 50% of the target population was vaccinated. We have administered over 35 million doses, “Department spokesman Foster Mohale said.
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Presenting his department’s budget to parliament on Tuesday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla also said SA was not yet in the fifth wave.
“As a country, we have seen four waves of Covid and now we are [speculating] if we’re already in the fifth wave, or if it’s still coming, ”Phaahla said.
“The indications are that we are not yet in the fifth wave, but as the cold takes hold and we spend more time indoors, the risk of the fifth wave continues to loom.”