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Politics of Friday, 24 April 2020

Source: Peace FM

Akufo-Addo's 'herd immunity strategy' against pandemic dangerous - Mahama


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Former President John Dramani Mahama has sought to question the logic in President Nana Akufo-Addo's lifting of the partial lockdown in the Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi, Kasoa and its environs.

President Akufo-Addo, in his 7th address to the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, told Ghanaians that upon the indepth knowledge that his administration and Health Professionals have acquired about the behaviour and mutations of the virus as well as adequate data on the epidemic, it was prudent to lift the lockdown but however cautioned Ghanaians to adhere to all safety protocols to guard against the spread of the COVID-19.

The President explained that "so far it has been established that the virus was imported into our midst from foreign shores, and is being spread through person to person contact. The majority of persons infected in Ghana have mild to no symptoms at all, whilst a very small number have required hospital treatment, out of which nine (9) persons, with underlying ailments, have died".

"...we are introducing rapid results testing to augment our surveillance and enhanced contact tracing efforts, so that we can quickly isolate and treat confirmed cases. From the sixty-eight thousand, five hundred and ninety-one (68,591) samples tested, we have been able to understand better the dynamism of the virus, map out its geographic footprint, and establish current and potential hotspots. We have also been able to isolate and educate asymptomatic carriers, and, thereby, help minimise the spread of the virus...lifting these restrictions does not mean we are letting our guard down. All other measures are still firmly in place'', the President expounded.

But according to Ex-President John Mahama, President Akufo-Addo seems to have jumped the gun in adopting a strategy called ''herd immunity'' to fight the pandemic.

Herd immunity is the idea that if the coronavirus keeps spreading, more people will be infected and eventually somehow the infected persons will become immune leading to the end of the pandemic as the virus finds it difficult to find a susceptible host.

This strategy was suggested by Chief Science Adviser to the UK government, Patrick Vallance who believed the UK needed to “build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission'', and as a result the pandemic will fizzle out on its own.

Addressing the nation via a digital conversation on Thursday, April 23, 2020, Ex-President Mahama opined that the President might be putting many lives at risk by his decision-making.

''One gets the sense that perhaps because of the current low mortality and the cases we have confirmed, the President might be seeking to rely on what is called herd immunity as a strategy to fight COVID-19 but I dare say this is dangerous. We must remember that there are reports of re-infection occuring in some cases elsewhere and also prolonged immunity to the virus has not yet been proven at this stage'', he stressed.

He called for better interventions to be made by the Akufo-Addo administration in fighting the pandemic because ''the burden of the coronavirus disease could potentially be very heavy. COVID-19 has overwhelmed the health systems of most advanced countries and can do the same in Ghana. The toll on our healthcare workers could be devastating. You can buy ventilators and other medical items on the market but you cannot go to the market and buy skilled doctors and nurses, and other medical staff''.

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