How SA’s Biggest COVID Survey Changed Policy

Epicentre News • 01 March 2022

Many of us have seen the recent news that COVID policy in South Africa has taken a dramatic shift. Isolation for asymptomatic patients has fallen away, and symptomatic patients now only have to isolate for 7 days. These changes were based on The National COVID Antibody Study and our Healthcare UTilisation and Seroprevalence Survey

The National COVID Antibody Survey

In 2021, history was made in South Africa’s research industry as fieldwork was finished on South Africa’s biggest COVID Study yet, the National COVID Antibody Survey also known as NCAS. This survey has provided much needed accurate data on COVID prevalence in South Africa (how many people were infected). This has helped our country to make better informed decisions around COVID policy.

Healthcare UTilisation and Seroprevalence Survey

HUTS was a COVID-19 study that interviewed and tested people for a past COVID-19 infection in Mitchelles Plain, Edendale and Klerksdorp. This study aimed to find out the true impact of COVID in these areas and see how people have been able to access healthcare.

What Did NCAS Find?

The NCAS study has shown our government that we are nearing a herd immunity in South Africa. Roughly 6.5X more people had a COVID infection in SA than government provided numbers. In addition to that, this study shone a light on how badly hit the Free State and the Eastern Cape are by the virus. This will guide future policy decisions both for COVID, research grants and even future pandemics.

How Did This Change Policy?

South Africa, like the rest of the world, is reeling as new COVID-19 variants continue to surface. Governments all have different approaches to dealing with the virus, but many are choosing to live with the virus, rather than seek an unattainable eradication. This is the largest finding of the NCAS study in many ways. We even hope for a ‘dynamic zero-COVID’. It’s time to learn to live with COVID-19.