South Africa likely to see lower COVID-19 deaths in fourth wave

People walk at a street in Cape Town, South Africa on December 27, 2020, Xabiso Mkhabela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

South Africa is likely to experience a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic but the numbers of hospital admissions and deaths will probably not be as high as those in previous waves, a senior epidemiologist said.

“The numbers of infections and detected cases may be comparable to earlier waves,” said Harry Moultrie, senior medical epidemiologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, citing the new scenario model conducted by the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium.

However, Moultrie said, the ratios of admissions and deaths to infections are expected to be “substantially lower” than in previous waves, “as a result of the vaccination coverage, particularly among the elderly, and protection from prior exposure.”

He also urged the public to continue keeping social distancing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.

The COVID-19 modelling consortium was established to project the spread of the disease to support policy and planning in South Africa over the coming months.

The daily new infections in the African country continued to decline in the past two months, with the latest seven-day rolling average below 300. The peak of the third wave saw around 20,000 new cases per day in July.

So far, the country has registered nearly 2.93 million confirmed cases and 89,515 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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