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SA could be well into fourth wave at election time in October, experts warn

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SA could be well into fourth wave at election time in October, experts warn


SA should forge ahead with the October 27 local government elections only if 80% of high-risk individuals are vaccinated against Covid-19 or the country records a consistent decline in Covid-19 mortality rates.

But given the slow rate of the vaccination rollout and a possible fourth wave of infections, this would be impossible to achieve, leading experts said on Tuesday.

Wits University vaccinologist Prof Shabir Madhi and the head of the SA National Aids Council, Dr Fareed Abdullah, expressed these sentiments at the Moseneke inquiry which is conducting public hearings into whether the upcoming elections will be free and fair under lockdown regulations.


Both of the experts poured cold water over the feasibility of holding elections later this year.

“We need to see something substantial, on a scale we have never seen before with vaccine rollout if we want talk about elections in the near future — and even under those circumstances I don’t think October is anywhere a possibility,” said Abdullah.

Madhi said the country would need to be ahead of the game in terms of reaching herd immunity before deciding on a date to hold elections.


The safest time to have the election is when at least 80% of people who are at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms are vaccinated.”

Those most at risk included people over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, said Madhi.

“Based on what we are now seeing with the rollout, it is unlikely that this is going to be achieved by September because you want the 80% target to be achieved at least six weeks before the elections. You need people to be protected first,” he said.

Madhi predicted that a resurgence could strike later in October. Abdullah predicted SA could begin to see the fourth wave in October.

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