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Around half of the South African population is said to have been infected with COVID-19, according to studies and statisticians, suggesting that the virus claimed tens of thousands more lives than officially recorded.

According to the South African Medical Research Council, the hardest hit country in Africa by the coronavirus has recorded more than 140,000 natural deaths since May 2020.

Leading private health insurance company Discovery estimates that around 90 percent of these deaths are due to COVID-19, bringing the actual death toll to over 120,000.

Officially, South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million coronavirus cases, of which just under 48,500 were fatal.

But statisticians believe these numbers are underestimated.

Their results are largely in line with surveys on coronavirus antibodies, which can be used to determine whether a person has been infected with COVID-19 even after recovering.

A study published last week of nearly 5,000 blood donors in four provinces found that between 32 and 63 percent of people studied had contracted coronavirus since the pandemic began – compared to clinically confirmed case rates of two to three percent.

Most antibodies were found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, both epicentres of South Africa’s second wave of infections, when it began in December, a month before the study was conducted.

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© 2021 AFP

Quote: Every second South African has accessed COVID-19: Estimates (2021, February 18) as of February 18, 2021 from

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