South Africa must remain vigilant until near end of programme.
The studies, published in The Lancet medical journal, constitute a major step on the road towards a COVID-19 vaccine that is effective and safe for widespread use. AFP/File/CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only brought with it pain, misery and death, but has also come with valuable social, political and health lessons on how to better respond to such phenomena.
In March the government imposed what was considered one of the strictest lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19, including bans on alcohol and tobacco sales, dog walking and jogging.
North West University political scientist Andre Duvenage said due to the scale, rapid transmission and unprecedented nature of the coronavirus, government had gone into panic mode and shut everything, to the detriment of an already ruined economy.
He found some decisions inexplicable, such as the tobacco ban even though there was no clearcut link between Covid-19 and smoking.
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“It was dictatorial and very negative. I am still of the opinion that there was vested interest. Interestingly, the ban was lifted during the second phase.”
Duvenage said though government has struck a balance between rebuilding the economy and curbing the spread of the virus, SA will pay for the mistakes of the initial lockdown for years.
“Last year I think it was a bit of an overkill. We went into panic mode.
“At the moment it is more serious. We need to adjust according to the circumstances and to be creative to get the economy going because even before Covid-19, we had serious financial challenges.
“At the moment financial challenges are escalating and the situation is beyond control. We are in a very serious
financial crisis. Look at the challenges in paying for the vaccine.”
Duvenage said his biggest concern was not decision-making but the implementation of the decisions.
There were major challenges for government, especially going into the vaccination process and getting the logistics ready to get it to the people, especially to the rural areas.
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Dr Glenda Davison, associate professor and head of the biomedical sciences department at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said the virus was not going to disappear and that meant South Africans needed to take responsibility to minimise the risk.
She said hospitals needed to be prepared with the necessary equipment and staff, and field hospitals should, perhaps, be kept open until near the end of the vaccine roll-out.
“I think the medical profession has also learnt a tremendous amount on how better to treat patients with Covid-19 and this is advancing all the time…
“I also believe we need better public education. That includes how to protect yourself and others, and also about the vaccine.
“We have seen a large amount of fake news which many ordinary citizens believe and this could pose a danger particularly as the vaccine is rolled out.”
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