Disease experts warn it is critically important that South Africans get their Covid-19 vaccines, especially immunocompromised people. This comes after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 is no longer a global public health emergency.
Professor Cheryl Cohen, Head of the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases(NICD) says Covid-19 is no longer a pandemic.
“At this stage with high levels of population immunity it should be regarded as a respiratory viral disease similar to other pathogens like influenza,” says Cohen.
Covid-19 jabs are still essential
Cohen urges people to continue to get their vaccines and booster shots. “Covid-19 vaccines are still needed as they can reduce the risk of severe disease and death. South Africa will continue to offer vaccines, particularly for people at increased risk of severe diseases such as older individuals.”
Cohen says it’s too early to tell whether the country will see a spike in Covid-19 infections this winter.
“Even if cases increase, a substantial increase in severe cases is less likely, given high immunity levels. Covid-19 continues to evolve and produce new lineages. This is similar to what happens with influenza and so it is likely that we will have to live with it like we do with flu,” says Cohen.
Disruptions caused by the virus
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says Covid-19 was more than a health crisis. It caused severe economic upheaval, disrupted travel and trade, forced businesses to close, and plunged millions into poverty.
“Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated political fault lines, within and between nations. It has eroded trust between people, governments and institutions, fuelled by a torrent of mis-and-disinformation,” says Ghebreyesus.-Health-e News.