We’ve compared Covid to everyone’s least favourite drunk uncle before, and we unfortunately have to do it again. After a relatively quiet few months, it’s barged in noisily and reminded us of its unrelenting presence…just in time for the festive season. 😓 Cases are on the rise again in South Africa – they passed the 1000 mark this week – and, just when we were tired of surprises, here’s another: a new “super variant” that has a high number of mutations. The variant, B.1.1.529, was detected in South Africa in mid-November and is prevalent in Gauteng, the health department said during a briefing today. The variant has also been identified in Botswana and Hong Kong. There’s still a lot for scientists to learn, but it does pose a major concern in the fourth wave that’s expected to hit around December. We’re not the exception when it comes to rising cases: Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are reintroducing lockdown measures while the Americas – particularly the US and Canada – are preparing for a new wave of infections. We should take lessons and ramp up our protective measures before things get intense. And, if you haven’t already, go get vaccinated! You don’t want to be the person everyone avoids at the family braai. 😬
Speaking of vaccines, South Africa still hasn’t reached a conclusion on making vaccines mandatory, but public health and legal experts have weighed in. They say the government is legally obliged to do what it can to protect our health, meaning that making vaccines mandatory would not undermine the Constitution. Some legal experts have said that as employees return to work, the employer’s discretion is not enough to determine if the workplace is safe, so more legislation needs to be in place. Obviously, you won’t be pinned down to take it, but the overall consensus is that mandatory vaccines are in the interests of public safety. ☝🏽 If we go this route, we’ll be following the lead of countries like Italy, France and Greece.
Look, we’re all tired of Covid-19 ruling our lives. It’s been nearly two years of pandemic pandemonium. But take heart: scientists predict that by the end of 2022 (if all goes well with vaccinations and we’re able to pre-empt the spread of new variants), Covid-19 will become endemic, meaning it will be just another one of those viruses, like the common cold or flu. It’s still a pandemic now because it’s prevalent, but as The Economist reported, pandemics don’t go away, they simply fade. Boy, we’re really looking forward to that day. 😌
This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 25 November 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.