Professor Shabir Madhi, lead researcher on the COVID-19 vaccine trial that has started in South Africa, says there are likely a million South Africans with COVID-19 at this very moment.
The Times quotes Madhi as saying: “When we say we have reached 100,000 cases, that is a complete underestimate. In my estimate, it is close to 10 times more – probably around a million people. There is increasing evidence that many are asymptomatic but are still spreaders.”
He said that one has to factor in the rate of testing and thus cannot compare countries. He said the most meaningful metric for comparison are the rates and numbers of people ending up in hospital, and that the single most important factor is “citizen adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions” (social distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene).
“We are still in the first wave and we are probably going to experience three to four waves over the next two years. We haven't even peaked, not even in the Western Cape. It will be completely dependent on the behaviour of South Africans rather than government interventions as to what the peak looks like. Citizens adhering to the non-pharmaceutical interventions is the single most important factor to prevent more peaks. It slows the rate of transmission,” he said.
Full report in The Times