Discovery chief executive Adrian Gore says a fifth Covid wave in South Africa is likely to be a lot more benign and less severe compared to previous waves, but that the group will still treat it with caution.
In a note published to social media this week, Gore said that the country’s previous Covid waves have all followed similar patterns when it comes to duration and time, with the peak between one wave and another typically measuring at around 170 days.
Gore said Covid variants appear to emerge in parallel to one another – so there is no reason why the next wave will be less severe than previous ones. However, he noted that the virus is expected to become more benign and endemic as time goes on. Based on these patterns, Gore said a wave could arrive in South Africa at the end of April and early May.
“While it may be more severe, we still think this is unlikely; but it is a risk and, therefore, I think we need to be careful not to take a hard view. The overriding position as a planner or business leader is to expect the best but plan for the worst and make sure you can survive some severity of a wave.”
Gore said he was optimistic, looking forward and that it was broadly time to move on from Covid.
Epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim also expects South Africa to see its fifth covid wave at the end of April.
In a radio interview in February, Karim it was impossible to tell what the next Covid wave will be or what the next Covid-19 variant could be – as it does not exist yet. He added that government has to be prepared to reinstitute new restrictions based on what that new variant will look like.
“We work on a rough basis that we will get a new wave every three months. The Omicron wave ended about two weeks ago so that means we now have about three months, and we can predict that we will likely see the fifth wave around the end of April or thereabouts.
“It will be driven by a new variant and it is unlikely that Omicron will be coming back again. The issue is that nobody can predict what the new variant will look like.”
South Africa reported 62 new Covid-19 deaths on Monday (7 March), taking the total reported to 99,603. The country has 21,020 active cases and a recovery rate of 96.7%.