Vaccines, not beach bans

Sunset with yellow and blue

There was a bit of a short notice “My fellow South Africans” on Monday. There was a great deal of speculation ahead of that 20:00 announcement – with much of it wrong, as usual. South Africans sure do love their gossip though.

Here’s the thing, there were no surprises – and this wasn’t very surprising. We’ve reached the limits of what is possible, the only thing left to mess with is funerals and that simply isn’t going to happen. The worst that really can be thrown our way is “only to work, only to home” and we aren’t really that far off the situation anyway.

What remains puzzling is the absolute zeal with which beach bans are being enforced. You would think that authorities with such a terrible track record at protecting citizens and reducing crime would be more reticent in their approach. Really, perhaps one or two people to walk the sands to chase the few stray people being brave should be enough. Multiple quads, vehicles driving on the sand, very public arrests – it is like a little blue lapdog terrorising stray socks to impress its master.

Seriously, do we need bulletproof vests and heavy firepower to protect the waves? Also, considering the SANDF camouflage pattern, does this mean a whole new uniform will be issued in preference to vaccinations?

While we are seeing the action on beaches (at least if you live at the coast) it seems the SAPS Water Wings must compete with their inland counterparts when it comes to a failure of rational thought processes.

It appears that government needs reminding the regulations are to help keep citizens safe, not criminalise them. The ongoing appetite for authoritarianism is going to hurt the ruling party come election time – at least that is my prediction.

The other thing that is going to hurt is the vaccine timeline. If you look at the current statistics the top four countries (Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia) have secured enough vaccine to cover from 303.5% to 229.9% of their population. Look for South Africa on the list … keep looking, yup keep scrolling down.

When you get to the 5% countries, you’ll find South Africa listed with Zimbabwe, Albania, Nigeria and many others. Less than half population covered by Kazakhstan, half of that by the DRC and less even than the Philippines. There are already 43 countries currently administering vaccinations and 29 million people have been vaccinated.

For South Africans the anticipated date of vaccine delivery for the first 10% is “somewhere around the second quarter of 2021” (April – June). This will be for frontline workers, the elderly and the institutionalised (like prisoners). From there the goal is 67% of the country vaccinated by the end of this year, but that has already been labelled unrealistic.

This is effectively the “tipping point” where herd immunity is expected to kick in for South Africa’s population. The problem is, that means the entire country will have to live with lockdown levels until that number is reached. A whole year of watching the world getting back to normal while restrictions continue here. A year of falling behind economically and watching countries we routinely compete with moving ahead. This is hugely problematic for a country already battling with significant unemployment and economic problems. This is yet another reason that the outcome of the next election could be a surprise.

On a final note, it seems the Telegram signups continue with unabated enthusiasm. The platform today confirmed it now has more than 500 million active users, with 25 million new users in just the last three days. That’s a lot of people signing up to the hype of the new WhatsApp terms and conditions – considering that most new users will be back on the platform within a couple of weeks.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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