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The virus may have infected nearly one-fifth of Africans S.



About 12 million people – nearly a fifth of the population – may have contracted the coronavirus in South Africa, the health minister said, as the country registers a significant drop in new infections.

South Africa has so far recorded 650,749 cases or 47.8 percent of the total numbers recorded in Africa. At least 15,499 of those infected have died.

But the actual number of people who became infected could be much higher, perhaps 18 times higher, based on estimates extrapolated from sample antibody studies.

The revised models “currently predict there are probably about 12 million” South Africans with detected or undetected coronaviruses, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement issued overnight.

“That translates to about 20% of the population.”

South Africa is conducting a national study that aims to provide accurate figures on the spread of coronavirus antibodies – a sign of infection – among 58 million people.

Mkhize said the decline in the number of infections detected each day “raises the issue of the level of immunity that may already exist in society”.

Lead vaccine specialist Shabir Madhi, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, suggested that infection rates could be as high as 40 per cent in densely populated parts of the country.

“What we’ve seen in South Africa – at least based on early data … is that in densely populated areas of the country … between 35 and 40 percent of people have been infected with the virus, “Madhi, who is also in charge of the South African part of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial, told an online meeting on Sunday.

The number of cases in South Africa has dropped from 10,000-15,000 per day in July to just under 2,000 in the last few days.

On Monday the number of new daily infections dropped to 956, the second time in less than a week that the numbers fell below 1,000.



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