COMMENT: Milder or not, the fourth wave is a killer!

The Chronicle

There is general consensus that the Omicron Covid-19 variant – first reported by South Africa last month – has the highest infection rate, but is milder than previous variants.

Scientists have attributed the so-called mildness of this variant to two reasons – immunity as a result of vaccination or infection, and improved treatment for the infected.

Recently, South Africa lifted curfews after going past the peak of its fourth wave which has had lower hospitalisation rates and deaths.

According to the BBC, the Omicron variant “appears to be milder according to preliminary studies published in the UK and South Africa”.

“Early evidence suggests fewer people are needing hospital treatment than with other variants – with estimates ranging from a 30 percent to a 70 percent reduction,” the report reads.

However, local stats – as we reported yesterday – show that the fourth wave is more deadly when compared to the Beta variant which fuelled the second wave that was prevalent during the festive season in December 2020.

A 14-day analysis of the period starting from December 20, 2021 to January 2 this year showed that 245 Covid-19 deaths were recorded compared to 73 recorded during the same period when the second wave hit.

Of course, this is more maths than science, but let’s keep in mind the fact that Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme was launched in February 2021 following a donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China. Health and Child care Minister, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was the first to receive the jab at Wilkins Hospital in Harare.

So, if the fourth wave – which comes after the vaccination launch – is “milder”, how come it is killing more people from December 20 to January 2 than the second wave?

The unprecedented infection rates are a clear indication that this variant is deadly.

The daily average of recorded cases locally is about 1 580 to give a total of 22 121 recorded cases in two weeks so far compared to a 167 daily average that resulted in 2 346 cases over the same period during the previous festive season.

In the UK last month, daily Covid-19 cases exceeded 100 000 for the first time.

Chief coordinator of the Covid-19 Task Force in Zimbabwe, Dr Agnes Mahomva warned members of the public of the dangers of complacency.

“The view that the fourth wave where the Omicron variant is dominating most of our cases is not bad is not a true reflection of what is on the ground because indeed, we are seeing deaths. Each time we record a death we are saddened and we just have to put out a message of warning,” said Dr Mahomva.

“We cannot relax or be complacent and we want to continue pushing the message so that our communities remain vigilant. It is not over until it is over, there is always a danger of a sudden upsurge in deaths and new cases hence let’s not tire doing what we know is right especially getting vaccinated, we know that it saves lives.”

According to research obtained by health authorities, not only do unvaccinated Covid-19 patients make up more than 90 percent of Covid-19 hospital admissions, but also 88, 9 percent of people who died from the pandemic were not vaccinated.

Vaccination is indeed important, but complacency once vaccinated is dangerous. Milder or not, the fourth wave is a killer!

The country was targeting to vaccinate about 60 percent of the population to reach herd immunity by year end, but only achieved 33 percent.

Dr Mahomva said Government is still chasing the target.

“The whole aim of setting ambitious targets is to push us as individuals and a nation to really strive so that we have the highest coverage possible. If it was possible, we would get everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated for them to be protected as individuals and then you can talk of herd immunity,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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