South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says new research estimates 12 million people – about 20% of the country’s population – could already have been infected with Coronavirus.
This is much higher than the official cumulative number of detected Covid-19 cases which is 650,749.
The research is based on examining seroprevalence – the amount of antibodies present in a patient’s bloodstream.
In a statement released on Monday night, Dr Mkhize said a decline in cases has raised questions of what level of immunity might exist in the country.
He explained initial samples “have shown seroprevalence of between 29% and 40%.”
A national seroprevalence study is now underway.
Vaccinologist and member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Shabir Madhi, says the true number of infections maybe even higher.
He estimates between 35% and 40% of South Africans in densely populated areas could already have been infected, pushing the possible number of infections as high as 20 million.