JOHANNESBURG - It’s been two years since South Africa announced its first COVID-19 case, with it came the hard lockdown, several peaks and variants, and we've lost almost 100,000 people.
With many challenges from vaccine rollout to vaccine hesitancy, has South Africa managed to win the battle?
Former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said, “we have already confirmed the first case. Someone has tested positive for corona virus in SA in KZN. I was informed this morning, I have already briefed the President. This is a person who had travelled to Italy.”
It was at that moment the outbreak overseas became a reality in South Africa.
Two years later and over 23 million tests have been conducted.
More than 3 600 000 positive cases recorded and 3 500 000 recoveries.
It hasn’t been an easy road.
South Africa has had to find a way to protect its people, especially the most vulnerable.
Virologist professor Barry Schoub said, “we have made excellent progress. If you look back two years ago, before we had our vaccines, we were in a far more vulnerable position than we are now."
"We have made great strides in developing our vaccines at great speed. We have also made great stride in understanding how the virus is transmitted, and epidemiological monitoring. We have made great progress but we haven’t conquered it yet I must be honest.”
With many countries easing COVID-19 protocols, calls are growing for South Africa to drop certain regulations as well.
Epidemiologist professor Salim Abdool said, “what we have seen from other countries is that we have reached a stage where we can change our overall strategy. We can remove most of our restrictions and our public health measures at this point. We can get away with sanitising and outdoor mask wearing.”
The country’s vaccine rollout hasn't been as effective as hoped, with fewer than 20 million adults fully vaccinated.
Schoub said, “there is a lot of room for improvement, vaccine coverage is a bit disappointing. We should’ve had a lot more coverage than what we have But you know if we look at the extent of immunity we fortunate in SA.”
It's hoped that should there be another variant, it will be even milder than Omicron and the last of this pandemic.