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Are We Doomed? Coronavirus South Africa Update – Tourists

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Dear SA Tourism Friend

Today I want to share some background and then a Coronavirus South Africa Update and most is good news:

As if Covid is not enough, South Africa also has to carry the cross; the so-called South African Covid Strain. The UK even did us a favour to blame their second wave on SA.

The negative news piled up. Even CNN says, on travelling to SA, the South African variant of Covid-19 is thought to transmit more quickly. As you read along you’ll notice they left out important facts.

Have a look at this publicity-seeking headline from CBSNews headline:

Coronavirus-South-Africa-Update - Publicity

As you read this Coronavirus South Africa update you’ll may be agree that the above “deadly spread” is hype! Not only hype it is wrong. The Corona virus is deadly.

The South African Covid-19 variant is only more contagious AND NOT more deadly.

You’ll agree with me by the end that the way the USA and other rich countries ignorantly managed it are more irresponsible and than the more contagious SA variant.

After all this you may ask, why did the clever, scientists in SA, reveal this strain to the world?

The messenger gets killed. And more often when it’s a poor messenger (like South Africa). In comparison we all know where the Covid-19 virus was first discovered but it was never, generally, called the China Virus.

Today, we all ask when will we ever travel without Covid restrictions?

At least South Africans can travel and our borders are open for foreign tourists and travellers. This Coronavirus South Africa Update will cover:

Coronavirus South Africa Update: Trends.

Here we are nearly 400 days since South Africa locked down due to Covid. Uncle Boris, the leader of the advanced first world country, the UK and the team looked at how nearly 130 000 Brits died and let’s not discuss Trump’s negligence.

And then we get this third world country; South Africa with 53 000 deaths. But, before we begin to brag, we need to consider South Africa’s excess deaths. I’ll get to that a little later.

The good news:

Without significant vaccination in SA (only 0.5% of the population compared to 2.2% worldwide and 11.2% (fully vaccinated, at least one dose 48% – 11 April 2021 – in the UK) our 7 -day new Corona cases average at only 928 per day. And this after Easter.

Obviously, we need to see if the Easter lag will still affect new cases. But in general, we are looking good. Even with our South African Covid Variant. I am impressed. And you?

South Africa Coronavirus Update - New Cases

Is South Africa A “Major” Factor In Second Wave in UK (True Or False?)

Interesting, is it not that SA is blamed. Let’s look at the UK and compare:

South Africa Coronavirus Update - United Kingdom

Given their 11% population vaccination level they average at new cases 2 200 per day. And South Africa at 928. The deaths per day for both countries are similar at less than 50 per day (See excess deaths for more).

Even if the secretary for Health in the United Kingdom, Matt Hancock blames SA, you would not expect SA to do so well with our bad strain; Is his comment a diversion or based on fact? Even if you read the facts on excess deaths in SA you still have to ask how bad is this Coronavirus COVID-19 501.v2 variant?

The SA goverment is really diplomatic in it’s reponse to mighty Matt Hancock;

…No evidence that the Coronavirus COVID-19 501.v2 variant is more dangerous than the UK variant

Here the SA Goverment elaborates:

[We] must register our concern that some of his utterances have created a perception that the variant in SA has been a major factor in the second wave in UK. This is not cor- rect. There is evidence that the UK variant developed earlier than the South African variant.

To give some historical context, on 14 December, the UK reported to the WHO that a variant had been identi- fied and traced back to 20 September 2020 in Kent, South East England- approximately a month be- fore the South African variant appears to have developed.

This variant has a mutation occurring at a site common with the South African variant (the 501), although they are two completely independent lineages. The UK variant is thought to be driving the second wave that the UK are experiencing cur- rently.

In addition, the UK variant has already been identified outside of the UK as reported by Prof Neil Fer- guson, a top British scientists who told the UK’s science and technology committee two days ago (23 Dec 2020) that evidence from Denmark, a country with a relatively low infection rate, suggests that ‘almost certainly’ the new virus variant identified in the UK is already in the ‘great majority if not all’ European countries.

We are also concerned that there is rhetoric developing that the 501.V2 variant is more transmissible than the the UK variant or may potentially cause more serious morbidity and mortality.

This has come in the wake of two samples collected from contacts of South African travellers testing positive for a SARS-COV-2 variant genetically identical to 501.V2. Read the full response here.

Back to my question: Is South Africa A “Major” Factor In Second Wave in UK (True Or False?). Why don’t you tell me?

Covid & Excess Deaths In South Africa

Coronavirus South Africa update will be incomplete without discussing excess deaths in South Africa

What is defined as excess deaths?

Excess deaths is a measure which compares the actual deaths over a period of time with the number of deaths expected based on the same period in previous years. But it relies on the full registration of deaths.

Looking at excess deaths gives a sense of the overall loss of life caused directly by Covid-19.It also shows deaths caused indirectly by the pandemic because of factors such as overstretched health systems, fear of attending hospital and an economic downturn. BBC

Fortunately, or unfortunately, excess deaths are measured in South Africa;

South Africa and Egypt are among the eight countries which do have functioning death registers, so calculating excess deaths in both countries is possible, and the results are telling. BBC

Why unfortunately? It would have been easy to brag that we compare well with rich countries like the UK. But let’s face the facts and then brag.

South Africa Coronavirus Update - Excess Deaths

Obviously, I don’t know how you would look at the above graph but I’ll give my opinion (I am waiting for yours):

  1. The first wave blue excess deaths peaked lower than the second Covid peak.
  2.  The first red Covid “buldge” or “hump” was less in relation to the excess deaths.
  3. The second red Covid “buldge” or “hump was more severe and the excess deaths, I believe significantly more.

What is interesting, to me at least, is that the unfortunately called South Covid Variant, which is more contagious, the overall death rate declined quickly as the lock down measures work.

The obvious questions are:

  1. If the South African Covid variant is so viral why did it drop so quickly and why are we not yet seeing the third wave as many rich countries see?
  2. To say something is more contagious is scary for most of us; we tend to run. But this so called 3rd world country with limited resources, as we see in the in ability to handle excess deaths, were able to limit the damage. Take this with the BAD South African Covid variant other factors played a role.

The BBC continues:

91,500 were either undiagnosed, or died as an indirect consequence of the pandemic such as delayed cancer treatment or fear of going to hospital.

Given South Africa’s variant, the excess deaths, the lack of resources, the population of nearly 60 million, 0.5% vacinated and compare that to Britian.; the UK have 67 million people, if we include SA’s excess deaths the deaths are similar (for arguments sake), they have 11.2% vacinated.

Currently the UK has nearly 3 times the number of new cases compared to South Africa.

My point:

Secretary for Health in the United Kingdom, Matt Hancock is afraid of the South African variant, called N501Y and tells the world it’s the cause for the spike in the UK.

Is this arrogance, ignorance or plain blaming because the UK goverment could not manage the issue? Interesting to read that PM Boris Johnson says. [the] lockdown is main reason for drop in coronavirus cases and deaths – not vaccinations. Again, rich brother, with your fast resources not fairing better than SA? Please tell me!

Coronavirus South Africa Update: Facts About The South African Variant

Facts About the South African Corona Variant:

  1. This coronavirus variant was first discovered in South Africa. Nothing more. It’s like saying the coronavirus was first discovered in China.
  2. The South African variant, is and should only be known only as the B.1.351 or 501.V2 variant.
  3. It is normal for viruses to mutate. (WSJ)
  4. South African researchers have said that B.1.351 maybe around 50% more contagious. (WSJ)
  5. South African researchers say that the variant doesn’t appear to lead to more severe cases of Covid-19. (WSJ). (When you read what I have wriiten and quoted so far this is clear. Unfortunately it not part of the narritive by foriegn newsoutlets. The variant is not more deadly. It is just more contagious. But how much more? Well, from the above you may have deducted South Africa did not see an increase, rather at current levels the infection trend is downwards.
  6. Tests to show that antibodies against the variant of the Covid-19 virus known as 501Y.V2, which dominated the second wave of infections in the country, are effective against the original version of the Covid-19 virus. This means that if a vaccine is designed to target 501Y.V2, it will likely be as effective, or nearly as effective, against earlier strains of the virus. Groundup.
  7. The 501Y.V2 dominated the second wave. In October 2020 only 11% of infections were 501Y.V2. But this rose to 99% by February 2021. Groundup.
  8. Those who have previously tested positive for the new Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2, have better immunity against other mutations of the coronavirus. SA Sunday Times.

The most critical missconception is between the terminoligy used; more contagious and NOT more deadly. We have seen how newsoutlets ignored the NOT more deadly (Read how Martin Reyto explians it). Unfortunately newsoutlets, for their money benefits sold the lie of “deadly spread” (See CBSNEWS for one).

Your next worry may if vaccines will work the South African Corona variant. Let’s check..

Doomed? Vaccine Situation In South Africa

What will this Coronavirus South Africa Update be without talking about vaccines:

I have shared lots of positive stats regarding the South African Covid trends. Obviously, vaccination is critical to get to a level where humans don’t spread the virus effectively; then it “disappears”. Until then social distancing measures are critical but also the level of people with antibodies.

TimesLive reported that more than two-thirds of diabetics in the Western Cape’s biggest township have Covid-19 antibodies.

To add to this (DailyMaveric) the National Blood Service shows that a large percentage of the population has likely already been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and that there are striking differences in prevalence between blacks and whites.

Obviously, the sample subjects are not representative of the SA population. From antibodies due to infection let’s move on to antibdies via vaccines.

This IOL news article, titled; How South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination programme compares to other countries. It’s interesting reading but I’ll summarise the Vaccine Situation in South Africa.

  1. South Africa will get 20 million doses of the Pfizer
  2. Through Johnson & Johnson SA will acquire 31 million does.
  3. Minister of Health Mkhize said they hoped to vaccinate about 41 million of the adult population over a period of a year.
  4. By May 17, 608 295 healthcare workers should be vaccinated
  5. May 17 until July 31, targeting 5 449 980 people, and Phase 2b from August to October 31, aimed at 12 900 160 people. Phase 3 will run from November to February 28 targeting 22 600 640 people.

The unfortunate delay was the AstraZeneca vaccines which were found to be ineffective on the South African population.

Some dissapointing news (14 April 2021) is that the vaccination of more than a million doses of the J&J vaccine which are scheduled for delivery next week, has been paused in South Africa. This decision was made after “very rare” cases of blood clotting were found among six vaccine recipients in the US. According to the News24 news alert the dely may be only 48 hours.

Hopefully when you read this SA will be back on track with it’s relatively slow vaccine roll out rate and we can still get to 41 million in a year.

Before we move on; we all know that the Covid virus does not care about borders, colours, wealth or nationalism. It means that if we are not all safe the world is not safe. I read somewhere that mutuations occur easier where infections go unabated.

Have a look at India where they currently have more than 200000 new cases per day. You may think you are vacinnated but we know what happened the new variant responded differently AstraZeneca vaccine and the roll out was stopped. This graph of new cases per day (7 day avg) does not make for good reading:

Coronavirus South Africa Update - India

Final Remarks & Looking Forward On The Covid Strain B.1.351

You have read that South Africa identified the B.1.351 strain and got branded “The South African Variant” instead of the fair thing to call it the b.1.351 strain; getting negative publicity affecting local jobs and tourism. Rich counties even blamed South Africa for their Covid spikes.

As you have read, the excess deaths during the second wave indicated South Africa’s infrastructure was not adequate.

But you’ll agree that the impressive and quick measures to deal with it made us a model given our 3rd world country (poor) status. Given these limitations, the UK rather should face its own issues squarely.

Do you know that Boris Johnson even invited Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa to attend the G9 because of his “key role” in leading the Covid-19 response in Africa.

I am also impressed with South Africa’s current low new infection rates, give this bad strain. We were all expecting the third wave after Easter Weekend, but nothing really changed. An interesting read (News24); Wits University is using an AI algorithm to detect Covid-19 outbreaks predicts a “low risk” of a third wave.

Man, oh man, I am impressed as South African’s continue to wear masks. Or am I too optimistic; have we run such a bad job that many people got it and have antibodies? No-one will ever really know. What do you think?

Let me know your thoughts. Did you get important insight from this Coronavirus South Africa update? If not let me know what I can or should include or consider.

Regards

Johan Horak

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