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’s experts write:
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.