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Two years on, pandemic fatigue has set in along with slow vaccine uptake across country

TWO years on, South Africa is experiencing pandemic fatigue. Picture: PHANDO JIKELO/African News Agency (ANA)

TWO years on, South Africa is experiencing pandemic fatigue. Picture: PHANDO JIKELO/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 11, 2022

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TODAY marks two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) characterised the global spread of Covid-19 as a pandemic.

In South Africa, there is a widespread sentiment that the Covid emergency is “ending” and that pandemic fatigue could be contributing to a slower vaccination uptake, according to a recent social listening report from the Department of Health.

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“There are fewer infections and deaths, a majority have some immunity through infection or vaccination, and Omicron tends to be less severe. This undermines motivation to vaccinate.

“There is extreme fatigue at the pandemic in general and apathy towards the government’s efforts to manage and communicate,” said the report.

Towards the end of January, the country exited the Omicron fourth wave. Since then, Covid-19 cases have continued on a slow decline.

On Thursday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 1 868 new cases, which represents a 6.5% positivity rate.

Over 32 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administered to 19 million people. Around 48% of the adult population have received at least one dose.

According to the report, 52% of adults between 35 and 49 years have been vaccinated, 64% in the the 50 to 59 age group, and 68% of the over 60s.

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“The issue is with the youth: just 35% of those aged 18 to 34 years have been vaccinated. Many youth say they have survived the pandemic for two years, why bother to vaccinate now?”

The fourth week of August 2021 saw over a million people vaccinated. Meanwhile, the total number of people vaccinated last week was over 86 000.

Total number of individuals vaccinated per week. Graphic: The Department of Health.

Globally, 453 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and over 6 million deaths have been recorded.

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WHO director, Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, said during a media briefing earlier this week that many countries in Asia and the Pacific were currently facing surges of cases and deaths.

“Although reported cases and deaths are declining globally, and several countries have lifted restrictions, the pandemic is far from over – and it will not be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” said Gebreyesus.

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