The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
For a long time, it was hard to look at any world view on South Africa as we were slowly being shifted over to the same basket as other failed African states. These are the words that cropped up time and time again: corruption, xenophobia, Eskom, fail, junk, stall – to name but a few. But right now, our data on Covid-19 infections and fatalities are comparing favourably with the countries that were worst hit by the virus. We might just be lucky that the prevalence of TB in our country that gave us all the BCG vaccine may lower the risk of deaths from the novel coronavirus. And apart from the fact that most of us are really scared that our families, friends and neighbours may get the virus, it was quite heavenly not having the bickering in Parliament and the constant efforts to drive us apart. There is less traffic and pollution; we can actually hear birds tweeting in our cities and the crime rate has dropped. Judging from the stream of memes, South Africans are finding inventive ways to amuse themselves and to get food, okay probably alcohol, to their neighbours and it forced us all to connect more with each other. Alan Knott-Craig writes that if the positive scenario pans out, “by some miracle, South Africa might be the place to be” in the coronavirus pandemic. – Linda van Tilburg
South Africa might just get lucky
By Alan Knott-Craig*
In February, our country was in bad shape.
Our stock market was over-heated.
We were heading for a recession.
We were heading for a downgrade.
And then Covid-19 happened.
Our stock market collapsed.
We’re now in a recession.
We’ve now been downgraded.
Cyril now has no political opposition, everyone is too busy scrambling to fight the pandemic.
Eskom has stopped load-shedding thanks to the national lockdown easing demand from businesses.
Before progressing, let’s acknowledge that it is possible that this is Armageddon.
Health, economic and political Armageddon. The end.
Millions could die. Millions could lose jobs. Political upheaval could ensue.
Ok, got that.
But it’s also possible that Covid-19 is the best thing to happen to SA since the 2010 Soccer World Cup. South Africa sailed through the Global Financial Crisis thanks to the state-sponsored infrastructure projects for the 2010 World Cup.
We were lucky.
By some bizarre irony, our country’s ongoing battle against TB may just be lucky too.
It may just turn out that most South Africans are safe because it’s mandatory to have a Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination when they are born to prevent life-threatening TB later on.
“We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination, such as Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States, have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,” noted the researchers led by Gonzalo Otazu, assistant professor of biomedical sciences at NYIT.