Covid-19: 4 300 died in Western Cape's third wave, but numbers were reduced by vaccination - officials

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Dr Keith Cloete.
Dr Keith Cloete.
Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
  • More than 4 300 people died during the third wave of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.
  • However, data showed the effects of the third wave were significantly reduced by vaccinations.
  • Unvaccinated people faced a 26% higher risk of death during the third wave.

More than 4 300 people died during the third wave of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.

However, the vaccination of those aged 50 and older protected the Western Cape from the full effects of the third wave, health officials said.

The province has exited the third wave and will shortly be between waves, said Western Cape Department of Health head Keith Cloete in a digital briefing on Thursday.

The third wave was more prolonged and severe than the second wave, but the impact of vaccination was being seen, said Cloete.

The most recent wave was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in Covid-19 cases. However, this risk was 26% higher for those who were not vaccinated, according to Cloete.

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The third wave resulted in a death toll of 4 345 in the province, while 3 887 people died during the second wave.

The infection rate and the number of people hospitalised during the third wave were also higher, said Cloete.

During the third wave, the province saw 68 796 Covid-19 infections, compared to 54 229 during the second wave. There were 11 671 hospital admissions during the third wave and 10 719 during the second wave.

However, data showed the national vaccination programme reduced the spread of the virus during the third wave, said Cloete.

The department noticed a drop in cases and hospital admissions in the older age groups, who were vaccinated first.

Cloete said:

This is more marked in the private sector, where vaccine uptake was initially highest. The pattern strongly indicates the protective effect of vaccines at the level of the population.

Age is the highest risk factor for developing severe Covid-19 or dying from the illness, and focusing on those aged 50 and older for vaccination could reduce the impact of a fourth wave of infections. The fourth wave was expected later this year, said health officials.

READ | 591 new infections and 80 new deaths in South Africa

"The best protection against a fourth wave that could overwhelm health services and result in excess mortality is to ensure that those 50 and older or with comorbidities are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinating those 50 and older or those with comorbidities will reduce peak hospital admissions overall, so that those who do still need admission can have better outcomes," added Cloete.

Cases are continuing to drop in the province. The proportion of positive tests has decreased to 4% in the province, and the Western Cape is seeing an average of around 127 new diagnoses, 31 new hospital admissions and six deaths each day.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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