Zweli Mkhize, the Health Minister, believes that the country is more than capable of handling the third wave of COVID-19. To speak about whether the country is actually capable of this, is Wits School of Governance Professor, Alex van den Heever and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation Professor Mosa Moshabela.
Professor van den Heever stated that the only reason why we would receive a third wave of the virus is due to super spreader events and citizens being careless, thinking that the problem has gone. When in fact COVID-19 is still very much around.
He urges the public to follow the protocols set in place to prevent the potential third wave.
Professor Moshabela believes that not enough has been done to make people aware of the dangers which go with not complying with the regulations and agrees that the public needs to adhere to the protocols.
Prof. van den Heever stated that we have certain levels of immunity that have built up which would impact the current variants in the country and might aside from human interaction have a limited effect on the extent of any kind of further wave.
There is a chance that those who were infected during the first wave might have lost their immunity to the virus and might become infected again and transmit the virus to others. This is why behaviour has to be managed quite carefully and implement combinations of restrictions, vaccinations and re-vaccinations.
He also believes that the public could build up immunity over the next two to three years which may lead to a gradual decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Prof. Moshabela added that the country has learnt a lot about how to deal with this pandemic which is why he believes it is important to have a balance between the risk in the pandemic, measures of restrictions and behaviour interventions.
The way forward would be to vaccinate the majority of the population to prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death. Once the majority has been vaccinated it will mean fewer restrictions for the public, which would have a positive effect on the economy.
Prof. van den Heever announced that it would be ideal for the country to vaccinate 300 000 a day, which could be reached as time goes on as the country has been receiving Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines a lot faster.
Focusing on the short term goals of reaching 300 000 vaccines a day will help South Africa reach their long term goals, stated Prof. Moshabela.
South Africans are reminded to continue to follow the restrictions and wear their masks whenever in public.