Faizel Patel – 09/06/2021
Wits University director of vaccines and infectious diseases Professor Shabir Madhi says Indian people are 40%* more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to other race groups.
Professor Madhi was speaking to Radio Islam on Wednesday about the third wave of COVID-19, the vulnerability of Indians to the Coronavirus, the importance of wearing masks and ventilating and vaccines being the only sustainable long-term solution for the deadly virus.
South Africa has currently recorded over 1,700,000 infections while more than 57,000 people have died after contracting the virus.
Among the Muslim community, at least 2,800 people have died from COVID-19.
Professor Madhi says Indians are more susceptible to be infected with the Coronavirus than other race groups because of their underlying conditions and habits.
He says that Indian ancestry is associated with high risk.
“Unfortunately it appears so and this is independent of the high prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, obesity as an example which are risk factors for developing severe disease. So in South Africa it appears that being Indian or being of Indian descent is associated to about 40% greater risk of actually dying of COVID-19 especially after people are hospitalised.”
Professor Madhi says masks and ventilation are more important than other COVID-19 preventative measures.
“Most of the infections that take place, probably more than 95% are probably because of airborne transmissions. The virus is able to hang around in poorly ventilated areas for two to three hours and it doesn’t require you to be next to someone to get infected with that virus, you can just breathe that virus in from the air because that virus is suspended in the air. So if you have adequate ventilation, the airflow basically removes the virus from the vicinity. Obviously the mask if you are coughing or anything else it is going to reduce the chances that you are going to be spreading the virus into that immediate vicinity.”
Professor Madhi says the third wave of the Coronavirus started about three weeks ago in Gauteng when the positivity percentage increased to above 10%.
He says the third wave is yet to peak in Gauteng and has urged people to take precautions.
“We haven’t as yet peaked and there’s actually a rapid increase in the number of cases day on day. It’s probably going to be another two weeks before we actually peak, so as you mentioned we are probably going to face many more janaza namaaz’s over the course of the next two weeks. This wave will probably still last another three to four weeks after that so probably taking us towards the end of July before this wave really subsides.”
Professor Madhi says COVID-19 vaccines are the only sustainable long-term solution for the Coronavirus.
“The only sustainable way that people can have some level of protection especially against severe disease is by being vaccinated. So whether you get the vaccine tomorrow or whether you wait another two years, all you are doing is increasing your chances of ending up in hospital and dying of COVID if you delay getting the vaccine especially if you are among the high-risk groups. People over the age of 60, people with co-morbidities, I would strongly urge that as soon as the opportunity arises that they rush forward to be vaccinated.”
Professor Madhi shared his concerns about those who are sceptical about taking the Coronavirus vaccine.
“To put it bluntly, I think they need to visit the cemeteries. It might not be affecting every family at an individual level. My own family as an example over the course of the past eight to ten days, there have been four members of the family that have passed on because of COVID-19, not because of cancer or a motor vehicle accident.”
Professor Madhi says COVID-19 is something that has been unprecedented in our lifetime and that people must take the virus seriously.
* “Indians have a 35% higher risk than whites of dying when hospitalised for COVID and 10% higher risk than all other race groups combined.” – Professor Shabir Madhi
Listen to the interview with Professor Shabir Madhi