Why Prof Salim Abdool Karim believes SA’s third wave may be 'different' to global trends

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, former head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, says SA's third wave could be somewhat different compared to other countries. File photo.
Prof Salim Abdool Karim, former head of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, says SA's third wave could be somewhat different compared to other countries. File photo.
Image: Jackie Clausen

SA's third wave could be different compared to other countries, says Prof Salim Abdool Karim. 

Prof Abdool Karim, who spoke to Jacaranda FM this week, predicts that SA could expect a different outcome because it had a variant in the second wave. 

During the height of the second wave, SA had the 501Y.V2 variant, which was first discovered in the Eastern Cape and was found to be more infectious than the original virus. 

“Our situation is different from other countries because we had a variant in our second wave, so we can expect our third wave to be somewhat different,” said Abdool Karim.  

He said it was still hard to tell whether it would be less severe. 

“We are not going to make much difference to the third wave with vaccines,” he said. 

“In fact, very few countries around the world can do that because you have to get to around 70% or 80% coverage to make an impact. To avoid the third wave is very difficult with vaccines.”

TimesLIVE reported that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said SA had not yet met the threshold for a new wave. 

The institute's acting executive director, Prof Adrian Puren, said last week that while SA had not yet crossed the national threshold for a new wave, the country could reach this point in the coming weeks. 

The NICD said the Free State was the only province experiencing a third wave, while Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape were showing sustained increases in infections.

The Northern Cape is experiencing a significant resurgence in Covid-19 cases. 

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are the only two provinces not at risk of a third wave at present.

Speaking to SAfm last month, Abdool Karim said SA was likely to experience the third wave of Covid-19 infections during winter. 

“When I look at the trends, there is a reasonable likelihood we may see the third wave at the end of June and in July. That is when we are mostly indoors,” he said. 

Abdool Karim said vaccinations could not prevent, but could help limit the severity, of a third wave.

“What we should be doing is trying to do our vaccinations as quickly as possible so we vaccinate the majority of our healthcare workers and the elderly before the next wave comes so it is less severe,” he said.

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