Johannesburg – Health expert Professor Salim Abdool Karim has appealed to South Africans not to call the second wave of the coronavirus a South African variant.
Karim warned that the second wave was no different to the one experienced in Britain, US and other parts of the world. He, however, said the virus was spread faster in most of the coastal areas of the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
Karim and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize were part of a panel of experts yesterday who were in virtual discussions on the impact of the second wave of the virus in the country.
However, the panellists were in unanimous view that research on the impact of the new variant of the coronavirus should be accelerated as soon as possible.
“There is no evidence that this variant is more severe,” Karim said.
However, he said that the risk of death was more similar to the first wave of the virus in the country.
“It is spreading faster. We do not have yet any answer on it. We are still working on it. A date is not yet available,” said Karim.
Karim said the vaccines from Pfizer and Modena have proved to be 95% effective in dealing with the virus, but he did caution that the nationwide vaccine rollout is not going to be easily carried out.
He also pointed out that it was a mammoth task that needs all hands on deck to deal to vaccinate people.
“Many people call it a South African variant. People should not be like the former president of the US (Donald Trump) who called Sars-CoV2 a China virus. We should call it by its name. It is 501Y.V2,” Karim said.
While most of the panellists agree that the new variant had the ability to evade antibodies in humans, expert Dr Koleka Mlisana of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) said no evidence of this has emerged as yet, pointing out that there were more people who are being reinfected due to the second variant.
However, Mlisana said more studies needed to be conducted to determine conclusively whether people are being reinfected due to the emergence of the new variant.
Professor Penny Moore urged people to accept whichever Covid-19 vaccine that came to them, saying there was no evidence that any of them were problematic.