Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, on Tuesday conceded that they were wrong about their predictions on the coronavirus peak.
Speaking on SAfm, Abdool Karim said they had predicted that the virus would start to see an increase around December 16 and this would be because of people travelling around the country for the festive season.
“We thought the second surge would be around January. Well, I was wrong,” said Abdool Karim, adding that the virus arrived six weeks earlier than anticipated.
The spread of the virus was also increased by superspreader events such as year-end celebrations attended by large groups of youths, instead of travellers as he thought would be the case.
As the country awaits the rollout of vaccines from the end of January, Abdool Karim said it was still unclear whether these vaccines would be able to tackle the new variant of Covid-19. He said there was currently no conclusive evidence but testing was being conducted. The results of this would be available in two weeks.
He stressed, however, that the new variant came as no surprise.
Abdool Karim said it was not unusual for a virus to evolve and develop a new variant.
“They change all the time so they can become more transmissible.”
This new variant of the virus was reaching more people quicker, he added, leading to a great amount of pressure on the health system.
By Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE