The incoming fourth wave is expected to start early December, with hospital admissions peaking at between 40% and 80% of the third wave, according to claims modelling and vaccination data, say experts from AfroCentric Group, a healthcare group and medical scheme administrator
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With hardly a month to go until the festive season begins, AfroCentric Group warns that the fourth wave is approaching
It says that continued vaccine hesitancy and excessive complacency among those who have been vaccinated are likely to be key drivers of the fourth wave of infections in South Africa.
AfroCentric group chief executive officer Ahmed Banderker says from a scheme admission data and total treatment cost perspective, the numbers indicate the fourth wave should see between 30% and 50% of that seen in the third wave.
AfroCentric is already a seeing a small but steady upsurge in cases, especially in populated provinces like Gauteng. However he says it is too early to say whether it’s the start of a fourth wave.
Excessive vaccine complacency
Banderker warns that vaccinations could lead many people into a false sense of complacency.
“More relaxed behaviour from the vaccinated population may lead to a quicker spread of the disease during a fourth wave, during which hospital capacity may again become a concern, especially for the unvaccinated,” he says.”
Less severe impact
However, given the progress in the vaccination rate, though still low and slow, and increased levels of natural immunity, the impact of the fourth wave in terms of hospitalisation is expected to be less severe than previous waves of infections.
Banderker says this is because of the high immunity environment that is the result of the vaccination rollout and prior infections.
“Vaccinations will not prevent infections, but we do know that they will provide substantial protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19,” says Banderker.
“With hardly a month to go until the festive season begins, we can only hope that the number of vaccinated South Africans increases enough to curb the spread and flatten the curve,” he says.
He urged all South Africans to get vaccinated and continue to adhere to Covid-19 precautions, especially when travelling during the festive season.
“That means wear your mask, avoid large crowds and enclosed public spaces and stay safe. Those who are not yet vaccinated should do so now,” he says.
“The impact of the coming wave depends critically on continued adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions and working together to address vaccine hesitancy,” Banderker stresses.