Wednesday, 05 August 2020
Pretoria: South Africa has benefitted from treatment developments, which have led to a reduction in the mortality rate, as COVID-19 infections surge.
“It appears we may have benefitted from treatment developments as we were experiencing our surge.
“Our indications are that there has already been an improvement in the survival rate from ICU, where the mortality has been reduced demonstrably. One study shows ICU mortality has been reduced by about 25% since the introduction of dexamethasone on 16 June,” said Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, during a virtual COVID-19 update briefing on Wednesday.
In another study undertaken by the Medical Research Council, ICU survival rates showed a dramatic improvement at 30% – 40%, whereas the ICU mortality rate at the beginning of the pandemic was around 80%.
Bed, oxygen and staff capacity
In its assessment on the availability of beds, oxygen and staff, the Health Department said it has not breached its bed capacity and continues to fill vacancies where there are gaps.
“While there have been constraints, work has been done to ensure vacancies are filled. However, we can also confirm that we have not breached our bed capacity and many of our field hospitals are not filled to capacity. We continue to monitor this as we manage the surge,” said the Minister.
While the country has experienced challenges, Mkhize said South Africa has thus far coped with the surge.
“I want to submit, with all humility, that up to now, our government has displayed its readiness and has thus far coped with the surge,” he said.
While government is coping with the surge in infections, the department has directed all provinces to enter into service level agreements with private health facilities to ensure that when bed shortages are experienced, alternatives can be explored.
Update on vaccines
On efforts to finding a vaccine, Mkhize said while it is still early days, government has undertaken to get involved and invest in the development of a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus.
“Currently, we are participating in the ChAdOx-1 study and in the COVAX project to be part of the global research initiatives, as well as access to vaccine programmes. We also wish to pursue the possibility of manufacturing vaccines locally.”