SA’s response to Covid must be independently assessed, says Shabir Madhi
Recent moves to relax quarantine rules indicate a shift away ‘from any pretence that we have the ability to prevent the spread of the virus’
SA should set up an independent body so review SA’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Shabir Madhi, the dean of the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences, who has also added to calls by some scientists to end the state of disaster.
“It is critical that an independent body be commissioned to reflect on the successes and failures over the past 23 months,” Madhi wrote in an article on Business Day.
SA had among the most severe restrictions anywhere when the pandemic landed on its shores, implementing measures such as a complete ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products. Despite the economic sacrifice that saw GDP contract 6.4% in 2020, the most in a century, the country still emerged with one of the highest numbers of fatalities in the world at 95,000 deaths — though excess data indicates the actual number might be three times that.
Madhi argued that SA’s high Covid-19 fatality rate and infection rates showed that lockdown restrictions did not stop the spread.
Current regulations such as wearing “material masks”, especially outdoors, or to enter a restaurant amounted to “theatre”, Madhi said. Recent moves to relax quarantine rules indicated a shift away “from any pretence that we have the ability to prevent spread of the virus”.
SA should prioritise booster vaccinations for immune-compromised people older than 50 years, he said.
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