Despite Botswana’s much celebrated success of COVID-19 vaccination rate against her counterparts, and emerging conversations around herd immunity, the Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as independent experts have warned that it’s still too early to celebrate as Botswana currently sits at 50 percent of herd immunity otherwise known as population immunity.
Herd immunity is an epidemiological concept referring to a situation where enough of a community have acquired immunity to a particular disease to prevent outbreaks. It is usually a combination of those who have been infected by the disease and those who have been vaccinated and usually attained when between 70% and 90% of the population is immune, depending on the transmissibility of the causative organism.
The Ministry spokesperson, Dr Christopher Nyanga in response to this publication said Botswana’s herd immunity is at 50 percent of the entire population. “It means that 50 percent of all Batswana have been vaccinated. It is a he success for an African country since only under 5 or so countries have reached this feat,” he said before warning that this means that the country is still at risk because they have not reached herd immunity.
Although supporting achieving ‘herd immunity’ through vaccination, and not by allowing a disease to spread through any segment of the population, as this would result in unnecessary cases and deaths, the World Health Organization says the percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease, adding that with COVID 19 not much is known. “For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated.
The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known. This is an important area of research and will likely vary according to the community, the vaccine, the populations prioritized for vaccination, and other factors,” says WHO. Herd immunity against COVID-19, they posits, should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease.
When asked for his views on Botswana’s situation, Public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu said herd immunity means that the percentage of susceptibles is so low that an outbreak cannot occur. “With Covid-19, the problem is that neither the vaccines nor natural infection give enough immunity to prevent infection in a high level of cases. As a result, made worse by new strains, vaccinated people or those who have had Covid still get infected and transmit infection to others. So outbreaks still occur. In my opinion therefore, taking herd immunity as I described above, we cannot really talk of herd immunity against Covid-19 under the present circumstances,” advised Dr Maganu.
There has been loose talk about herd immunity in the public discourse but experts say it is still early days as many have not taken the vaccine. “Herd immunity would result from a high coverage with a very effective vaccine, or from a large number of people who acquired immunity from natural infection. The infection with the disease has to give very high immunity; for example there are diseases we call immunizing diseases of childhood. Once you get that disease, you become immune for life e.g. measles, mumps, chickenpox etc.
Vaccines against such diseases are also very effective. So, when you have a high percentage (usually above 70%) of your population having been vaccinated or suffered from such a disease, the population acquires herd immunity,” Maganu said. The most recent vaccination report states that as of yesterday (Friday), the number of vaccinated (first dose) people was at 1,419,859 while the number of those fully vaccinated was at 1,157,321.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.