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OUR TAKE: COVID, TAKE 4

Let’s start with the good news: the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has approved a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. 💪🏽

People who are 18 years and older can go for their third shot at least six months after receiving their second dose, while people aged 12 and older who are immunocompromised can go for their booster shot about a month after receiving their second shot. If you’re eligible, get in line: experts have confirmed that this third shot could provide more protection against the Omicron variant. 🧐

We need all the protection we can get; the fourth wave is coming at us quickly. In the past week, new cases averaged around 13 000 a day, similar to what it was before the peak of the second and third waves. Some potentially positive news is that hospital officials say so far the health impact isn’t as bad as during the first three waves and that most patients, especially those who have been vaccinated, have only mild symptoms. 🤞🏽 Netcare’s CEO told News24 that 75% of the 800 Covid-19 patients admitted to its hospitals since 15 November were unvaccinated. If you haven’t taken the jab yet, this is your cue. 

What does this mean for travel? 

As countries are learning more about the variant and have discovered cases of it in their own backyards, there are calls to drop travel bans against SA and others. Yes, England, we’re talking about you. The UK is allowing British and Irish nationals living in SA to return home, but the ban has not been lifted for everyone. The same goes for Japan, Malaysia, France, Australia and others. Switzerland has, however, relaxed mandatory quarantine for South African travellers. 

African nations are lobbying for bans to be lifted. Here’s hoping this new form of apartheid gets dismantled. 

If nothing else, at least we don’t have it as bad as an unfortunately named Belgian death metal band, Omicron. 👀 As the band put it: “Having the same name as the new coronavirus variant feels like an extra responsibility we have to carry.” The makers of Corona beer can only nod their heads sadly…

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 9 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.