South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, a similar body to SAGE, has written to Health Minister Joe Phaahla recommending that all contact tracing and self-isolation of contacts for Covid be stopped because it is unnecessary and ineffective. South Africa is the original epicentre of the Omicron outbreak so this advice should be a strong signal to Boris Johnson and the rest of the world that the panic about Omicron is unwarranted.
The Committee writes:
We propose that quarantining be discontinued with immediate effect for contacts of cases of COVID-19. This applies equally to vaccinated and non-vaccinated contacts. No testing for COVID-19 is required irrespective of the exposure risk, unless the contact becomes symptomatic. We further propose that contact tracing be stopped.
Crucially, it appears that efforts to eliminate and/or contain the virus are not likely to be successful. Therefore, it is critical that the role of containment efforts like quarantine and contact tracing is re-evaluated.
The inability of the current testing strategy to identify the bulk of cases is illustrated by the high SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity rates seen across multiple provinces in serosurveys, implying that only a fraction of cases (perhaps one in 10, or even less) are ever diagnosed.
It stands to reason that if the vast majority of cases are not diagnosed, then the vast majority of case contacts are also not diagnosed. This means that quarantining and contact tracing are of negligible public health benefit in the South African setting.
The Daily Sceptic has been sent a copy of the memo, which is reproduced in full below.