South Africa: COVID-19 in South Africa - Perspective Is Needed

opinion

Covid-19 has caused us to lose perspective on various fronts. One main front is the burden of disease. In a country in which many thousands of people die each year from treatable diseases like TB and Type 2 diabetes, an exclusive focus on the mortal impact of Covid-19, while understandable, is misplaced.

This is not another piece about the epidemiology of Covid-19 by an amateur epidemiologist, but an article about the need to place the pandemic in perspective.

A recently released estimate of possible deaths due to Covid-19 is that up to 48,000 people in South Africa may die from the pandemic by November 2020 (Kahn & Paton, 2020). At the time of writing (24 May 2020), 340,196 people worldwide have died from Covid-19 (Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center) - 407 in South Africa. This means, in the worst-case scenario (if 48,000 deaths is worst-case), that the country can anticipate a 47,900 percentage point increase in Covid-19-related deaths over a six-month period - an increase of truly epidemic proportions.

But we need to place a scenario of 48,000 possible deaths due to Covid-19 in perspective. A total of 446,544 people died in South Africa in 2017 (Statistics South Africa,...

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