Since mid-January, confirmed Covid-19 infections in South Africa have fallen from a record of nearly 22,000 a day to around 1,000, without a large-scale vaccination campaign or stringent lockdown. Fewer than 5% of Covid-19 tests are finding traces of the virus, a sign health agencies are missing fewer cases. The government has lifted most remaining restrictions for the country of 60 million people.
The cause of this steep decline in cases remains somewhat of a mystery. As in other countries that have at some point experienced surprising drops in Covid-19 cases — such as India, Pakistan and some parts of Brazil — epidemiologists and virologists are piecing together different explanations for why the outbreak in South Africa isn’t following patterns set elsewhere.
Those include important population groups reaching sufficient levels of immunity to slow transmission, people sticking more closely to social-distancing rules, such as wearing masks and voluntarily reducing contacts, when deaths were mounting before the decline.
Author(s): Gabriele Steinhauser
Publication Date: 14 March 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal