A professor of vaccinology said that the declining cases in South Africa were a “turning point” in the pandemic as the region came out of lockdown without significant interruption to people’s lives.
Professor Shabir Madhi told Debora Patta, the foreign correspondent for CBS News, that vaccines and high rates of previous infections had led to a precipitous drop in coronavirus cases.
“The Omicron wave now accounts for less than 5% of all of the deaths that have occurred due to COVID-19 [in South Africa] since the start of the pandemic,” Madhi explained.
He went on to say that even if other variants arise, South Africa is likely to avoid the devastating death and hospitalization rates of earlier waves of the pandemic.
“I’m highly optimistic that we have reached a turning point in this pandemic,” he said. “I can’t see us revisiting what we experienced during the course of the first three waves in South Africa.”
Many experts have voiced their hopes that the pattern of falling coronavirus cases seen in South Africa is just beginning in Britain and will soon follow suit in the United States.
“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” said Ali Mokdad, a health metrics sciences professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Mokdad explained that the reason for this is very simple: “Everybody who could be infected will be infected.”
One study found that while Omicron is far more infectious than other versions of the coronavirus, it results in far fewer hospitalizations and much less severe symptoms.
“We’re almost there, it is now the beginning of the end, at least in the U.K.,” said Professor Julian Hiscox, head of infection and global health at the University of Liverpool, to BBC News. “I think life in 2022 will be almost back to before the pandemic.”
Here’s more about the turning point in the pandemic:
Vaccinologists optimistic that South Africa is over the worst of the pandemic after Omicron wave