South Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a testimony to the power of the collective.

This is according to Dr Kerrigan McCarthy from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases who, in an interview, said society is moving away from an individualistic approach to healthcare because of COVID-19.

“The response to COVID is a testimony to the power of the collective. We are very familiar with the simple acts that are part and parcel of that. The social distancing during the lockdown is a very effective way of reducing transmissions and we are not doing it for ourselves, we are doing it for everyone out there,” she said.

“When we wear cloth masks, we are not doing it for ourselves; we are doing it to protect others. The trend in society in the past 100 years has been individualistic; but the reality is when it comes to health interventions, we don’t do it just for us.”

McCarthy said South Africans cannot survive the COVID-19 pandemic on their own.

“We can’t survive alone anyway, we need everyone else. It’s a lovely coming together of what it means to be human, what it means to be a part of a collective society. Hand washing, social distancing, wearing of a cloth mask and adhering to the lockdown is one of the ways that we can contribute to something broader than ourselves,” she said.