The “Breaking News” of a new COVID-19 variant B1.1.529, should come as no surprise. We may be entering a 4th Wave in South Africa as the medical teams are informing and infections numbers show an increase this past week. Will there be a 5th Wave, a 6th Wave? Possibly.
20 Months into this lived experience and working like we have, cannot continue. It is therefore up to each of us to do what we can to slow this wave and the many more that may come.
What is clear is that we can’t use the same regulatory rules and the same restrictions to slow the wave down or to slow down infections. Lockdowns will only harm the economic recovery and as we have said weekly, wipe industries out that may never be able to be rebuilt.
We therefore agree with the sentiment of Professor Shabir A. Madhi, Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, that the world needs to accept a breakthrough of infections will continue to occur. “The sooner we come to accept this, the sooner we can recalibrate how to move forward.”
Important to keep in mind, according to Madhi is that breakthrough of infections are less infectious. For example, it is 60% less likely to transmit Delta when vaccinated. The risk of developing long COVID is also greatly reduced.
Madhi says: “Vaccines are primarily about preventing severe disease. In the case of the new B1.1.529, we should learn from what transpired with the Beta variant, which also showed resistance to vaccine-induced antibodies.
Nevertheless, the vaccine still conferred high protection against severe COVID.
So, we appeal for logic to prevail and we appeal for clarity as we all try to do our best in the last few days of 2021. The action by the UK Government and the rest of the European Union is a concern.
We therefore support the notion of Minister Naledi Pandor, reaching out to the UK to communicate the impending disastrous tourism season on both ends of the world. The views expressed by Minister Pandor that “Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries.
South Africa will engage the UK government with the view to persuade them to reconsider this decision.
The decision by the UK Government to ban flights from South Africa, although temporarily at this time, is already having a destructive effect on the hospitality sector in South Africa.
We sincerely hope that sanity will triumph.
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