By: Clyde Ramalaine
-The SA facts simply do not corroborate an ongoing lockdown –
One of the best things the South African state-led initiative on a COVID-19 response afforded us though very late in the first instalment of 21 days of lockdown was to finally give SA access to the experts.
Some of us long ago asked why the professionals and experts on the subject matter of virology, immunology and the relevant disciplines never accompany the wholly out-of-depth politicians that daily hog television media attention in typical New York Governor Andrew Cuomo style. South Africans finally were duly briefed by the chairperson of the government’s COVID-19 ministerial advisory committee Professor Salim Abdool Karim who in practical and simplistic language invited us all into the world of COVID-19 in its diverse manifestations with the critical and necessary focus of SA as our laboratory for research.
When world-renowned epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, Prof Karim finally spoke he made it emphatically clear that the SA COVIDń-19 manifestation is unique for its early decline. He juxtaposed SA with the UK the two countries initially showed a very similar upward trajectory. He explained it in what he termed a ‘‘knuckle”, to define the sudden and sharp lack of a spike that started since March 26.
Please note that lockdown was only instituted by midnight March 26 meaning lockdown as a material fact cannot be accredited for the decline as some want us to believe. While at a political level President Ramaphosa in being asked on lockdown extension skirted the issue and chose to deflect with boisterous claims of if the lockdown was not instituted the numbers would have been worse, we owe it to be honest on the facts not spin or public relations. This political statement on the part of the president is not borne out by the facts that Karim presented as the concluded reasons for a SA decline.
Here we are compelled to distinguish between facts, fiction or fixation. COVID-19 is much more than mere science or a virus, COVID-19 is political and evidences all the tendencies of a political subject. We know it’s political when USA president Trump can call it the Chinese virus. We know it’s political when Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo can preach vaccines. We know it’s political when the Democrats aided by the propaganda machine of CNN wants to now use it as presidential elections campaign means to blame Trump as a slow starter, therefore, seeking to make the case that he is to blame for the 27000 plus deaths hitherto.
Yet in the Southland of Mzansi it’s also political since it as I already have stated is the ‘godsend’ to save the proverbial bacon of Ramaphosa who under normal circumstances should face real scrutiny in fitness to lead should the National General Council (NGC) of the ANC convene in less than 60 days. At another level, COVID-19 is a strange means of governance by a failing political leadership. COVID-19, therefore, inadvertently becomes a perfect excuse to deflect on the lack of service delivery, an economy that has long bottomed-out, a failure in the adopted cargo diplomacy, recession, junk-status, skyrocketing unemployment numbers, and a means to control the centre of ANC which until now he could not. It can be argued South Africa post the 54th ANC Conference has for the first time a visible leader these last 21 days of over 800 plus.
Beyond the political reality of COVID-19 and its manifested lockdown implementation systems, we must deal with facts for what they are. Granted facts are subject to change yet facts as understood by the current research and findings on tests, infections, results and recoveries for South Africa is the indisputable truth at a specific time.
My gripe here is the scripted South African parading fiction to somehow prove not willing to accept this factual uniqueness and make it stand in its own space. South Africans strangely are duped and brow-beaten to expect an imminent and alarming increase in infections when the facts simply do not bear it out. It is in the interest of some to prognosticate a gospel of imminent spike that will see us in Italy or Spain spaces as it relates to statistics of mortality.
The truth is some simply don’t want to accept that hitherto despite the frenzy, hype and fear talk from both President, government, a lusty media and those who have a vested interest in having us all tested and subsequently vaccinated we are not in trouble at all. In regards to the mainstream media, I still think it needs to be held accountable for its classically conditioning of a globe’s collective mind to be afraid until we abscond in God-given capacity of thinking to ask simple questions. For South Africa regardless to how COVID- 19 is used at a political, economic and media herd levels the facts remain we have had less than 35 for a corona- related mortality rate and of those tested (90515) only 2506 tested positive this while 410 are already in full recovery.
Can we also dispense of the politics that belatedly devoid of facts seek to advocate our uniqueness is simply because we had lockdown response since March 26? This is fictitious and borders on farcical since an inexplicable decline was attained before the announcement and claiming easy victories borders on wilful deception intentions. These are the indisputable facts for now not what we see on CNN as it relates to other countries. Every day we are bombarded with the climbing total infections as now edging towards 2 million people. Naturally, 2 million sounds alarming until you compare it with a global population of approximately 7, 5 billion. We also know that common influenza infects many millions more and annually evidence much higher mortality rates for which the entire globe annually bat no eyelid.
Shall we appreciate this uniqueness for what it is and stop acting as if we are in Italy or Spain? Let us be honest and also inform the people, that the current facts on infections understood in corona-related deaths for all intents and purposes may adopt the same current trajectory even if the lockdown is brought to an end today. Let us be grateful and celebrate our uniqueness and stop the fear-mongering of an anticipated spike that will be disastrous, there is simply nothing factual to support this theory. The President owes it to us as South Africans to be guided by facts not fear as he hitherto chose to lead from. I am not advocating for us to be irresponsible meaning we must continue to be cautious as we normalise but the business-case for an ongoing lockdown simply does not exist.
Should the President seek to continue with lockdown he must give us a new set of substantial reasons because the current scientific facts warrant no continuance of any lockdown? He may take us into confidence on why he and the Command-Centre cognisant of these facts are willing to continue playing Russian roulette with a collapsed economy as increasingly the poor surges to the streets to protest their literal hunger for food?
On another score may we know from where this fixation on vaccines? We know that hitherto as admitted by the State 410 formerly infected individuals wholly recovered without any prescribed medicine [since by the admission of all experts there is no real medication] or vaccine. Why then is the doctrine of a vaccine held up as the only solution? In New York Cuomo has gone as far as saying COVID-19 ‘is over when there is a vaccine’. This fixation raises questions on the veiled politics and economics of interest pervasive in background noise. May we know in whose political and economic interest this preoccupation and fixation in an insistence on vaccination of all are? Will we post COVID-19 have as new Visa requirement your proof of vaccination to enter foreign countries?
Lastly, why is the State obsessed with the idea that it must test everyone, why are the current tests and its accompanying results as a sample not adequate to conclude that the virus is not as widely spread as is often preached or hoped for? To pretend we must do what New York did with the erection of Field-Hospitals etc is perhaps to grossly overstate the current facts before us. For the record, in the case of New York, three independent studies conducted by ‘independent institutions’ which include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored initiative advised that New York would by now require exorbitant numbers of bed space. Hitherto all of these studies were proven inaccurate since despite daily updates of 700+ mortality New York confirms a gradual decline that points to a downward trajectory on all key factors for assessment.
Karim on April 14 also advocated that this current week is crucial in deciding how to respond to and manage the coronavirus and lockdown. Can we make the necessary distinction between COVID-19 and its response of a State-led lockdown that increasingly may confirm a disparity and disconnect if the facts of a South African situation is made the yardstick?
I find the parading disregard for facts in preference of fiction and fixation rather vexatious. I am afraid devoid of a genuine business case supported by the prevailing SA facts an ongoing lockdown becomes the recipe for anarchy when it naturally invites increasing resistance which unfortunately if not properly handled could see more die than what the virus hitherto has claimed.