As Covid-19 cases in South Africa continue to go down experts are now considering the possibility that many South Africans could have built up immunity against Covid-19.
South Africa’s health minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize said the continued decrease in coronavirus cases raises the question of the level of immunity that may already exist across the country.
As of 14 September 2020, South Africa recorded a cumulative total of 650 749 Covid-19 cases with 956 new cases identified.
The total number of Covid-19 fatalities stands at 15 499.
Recoveries now stand at 579 289 which translates to a recovery rate of 88,9%.
Minister Mkhize said initial seroprevalence studies from convenience samples have shown seroprevalence of between 29 and 40%. ‘Seroprevalence’ is the level of a pathogen in a population, as measured in blood serum.
“Interestingly, the revised models currently predict that there are probably about 12 million South African in total (detected and undetected) infected with coronavirus – this translates to about 20% of the population.
“We are currently embarking on a national seroprevalence study which should take us closer to the actual seroprevalence of coronavirus antibodies and will give us a more accurate indication of our status of national immunity.
“Once the national study has been concluded we will communicate those results to the public.”
Early Covid-19 models
When epidemiologists first modeled their forecasts earlier this year there were fears that people, especially those in densely populated spaces, were at a greater risk of rapid infection.
The numbers in South Africa however, continue to tell a different story.
Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, said that some sectors of the population could have developed immune cells, which offered a layer of protection against viral infections, including Covid-19.
Despite earlier fears that a rapid rise of infections would lead to a health system collapse, South Africa’s Covid-19 mortality remained far lower at just over 1%.