The owner of South Africa’s largest health insurance administrator, Discovery, says the country could see an additional 92,500 Covid-19 deaths by the end of the year if the country’s vaccination program fails.
Without an effective introduction of vaccinations and restrictions to end super-spreader events during the April Easter vacation, 92,500 people could die by December, CEO Adrian Gore said in an online presentation Thursday.
If the effects of super-spreader events are slowed down by significant advances in the vaccination program, that number should be halved.
“The vaccination program has to be successful and fast,” said Gore.
The government began administering coronavirus vaccines on Feb.17 and distributed Johnson & Johnson shots to health workers and top politicians.
Vaccinating two-thirds of the 60 million population to achieve herd immunity can take 12 to 18 months.
The biggest challenge, according to Gore, will be ensuring that high-risk groups are vaccinated by mid-winter. “That would be a big win,” he said.
With more than 1.5 million known coronavirus infections and nearly 50,000 deaths recorded by the Ministry of Health since March 2020, South Africa is hardest hit by the pandemic in Africa.
Discovery provided R 3.4 billion ($ 231 million) in anticipation of future Covid-19 claims and insurance policy defaults in South Africa and the UK last year.
While the second wave of Covid-19 infections in South Africa in December and January hit Discovery harder than the first, the company expects profits to increase at least 20% over the same period last year for the year ending in June, it said in a statement on Thursday, when it released its financial performance for the first half of the year.
The bullish forecast is “pretty bold” and “something the market shouldn’t ignore,” Warwick Bam, research director at Avior Capital Markets, said over the phone.
“If you focus on the fact that mortality is the main risk, Discovery has reserved enough for that. You seem confident. “
Read: The Greatest Threat to South Africa’s Economic Recovery Right Now