‘Devastating: South Africa buckles under Covid-19 wave driven by Delta variant

Published on Jul 09, 2021 07:11 PM IST
  • South Africa has administered at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to around 6% of its population and the percentage of the fully vaccinated population is just over 2%.
Reported average Covid-19 cases per day in South Africa over the past week has been hovering around 333 per million people.(Bloomberg)
Reported average Covid-19 cases per day in South Africa over the past week has been hovering around 333 per million people.(Bloomberg)
By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

South Africa on Friday announced its plan to start vaccinating people under 50s as the country buckles under the third wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) largely driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. South Africa last week reported the highest single-day infections since the start of the pandemic, and reports suggest that South Africa’s healthcare system is at a breaking point.

A senior doctor at a major public hospital in Johannesburg said that Covid-19 patients are dying while waiting to be admitted in a ward, reported CNN. “It's devastating, it's soul destroying. We are trained to save lives, but you revert to that wartime mentality. You revert to becoming numbed, you revert to becoming blunted," the doctor was quoted by CNN as saying.

The decision to expand the age group for vaccination eligibility comes at a time when the number of daily new deaths related to Covid-19 is witnessing another surge. Reported average Covid-19 cases per day in South Africa over the past week has been hovering around 333 per million people, making it one of the worst-affect countries in the region per capita.

South Africa has administered at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to around 6% of its population and the percentage of the fully vaccinated population is just over 2%, making the country vulnerable to deadly coronavirus variants, especially the Delta strain which has higher chances, as per recent studies, of evading vaccine-induced immunity as well as natural immunity.

With more than 2.1 million overall Covid-19 cases so far, South Africa accounts for 37 per cent of the continent's infections, followed by Morocco and Tunisia with nine and eight per cent respectively, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Leading virologist Tulio de Oliveira told a weekly media briefing that the Delta variant "is still fast spreading" in the country.

"What's happening in South Africa is happening in many countries that still have low vaccination rates."

The South African government recently approved the use of Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm, extending the list of approved vaccines along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson jabs.

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