Opinion Pieces

Right of Reply: Humility, and less certainty about being right, critical to reaching common understanding of Covid-19 epidemic. Daily Friend, May 25, 2020

I thought it necessary to write a response to an attack on me for something I had written about the Covid-19 trajectory in South Africa. The essence of the debate is about whether there really was a slow down in the number of new cases in South Africa in late March - early April. Whether this was the case depends on whether you think the numbers reported were a result of an initial spike and then a decline in testing, or whether testing patterns at that time were consequent upon case patterns - which is what I argue. Here it is.

COVID-19: Making sense of "R". GroundUp, 19 May 2020.

"R", the reproductive number that epidemiologists use to describe key features of an epidemic, is explained and examples are used to clarify common misconceptions about what happens when R is equal to 1, greater or less than 1, and illustrating how the South African epidemic is shaping up.

Why don’t we know how many people have been infected with Covid-19 in South Africa?

Daily Maverick, 5 May 2020.

This article explains the consequences of underestimating the true number of infections for our understanding of the severity of COVID-19, the prediction of achieving herd immunity and the implications for trace and quarantining interventions. It then shows why the false positive rate of the antibody tests, even if they have specificity above 99% will still lead to a many-fold overestimation of the number of recovered infections in the population. The conclusion is that at the time of writing, with low prevalence rates, we cannot know the number of infections that have occurred.

 

South Africa, a nation ravaged by HIV, is flattening the coronavirus curve. Sunday Times (UK), 26 April 2020; and republished as Is the South African Covid-19 epidemic different from the rest of the world? Daily Maverick, 28 April 2020.
In this article I analyse the apparent anomalous trends of the COVID-19 epidemic in South Africa compared to other countries - both the lower infection rates and the low case fatality rate. The infection rate is probably lower primarily because SA is at an earlier stage of the epidemic. The CFR does indeed appear low, and there are no good explanations yet, and some of those that have been postulated are discussed and rejected.

 

The UCT and Wits strategies on #FeesMustFall were different for good reasons. Mail & Guardian, 12 March 2019.

In this article I respond to the debate about whether the different strategies for managing student protests at Wits and UCT should be compared and judged against each other. I argue that different contexts require different approaches.

UCT VC: Let's flip the varsity classroom and step into the digital future. Mail & Guardian, 16 Feb 2017.  In this article I discuss how putting lectures online, and providing all students with laptops improves outcomes especially for educationally and financially disadvantaged students.

A subtle kind of racism. News24. 2017-07-16.

UCT is generally regarded, especially by white students and alumni, to be a liberal non-racist environment. They struggle to  understand why some black students and staff experience the institution as racist. What is meant by institutional racism. This is my attempt to explain why I accept this accusation and believe the university needs to respond with some dramatic changes.

Grants and loans are the fee answer, says Max Price. Mail & Guardian, 23 Sep 2016.

I summarise the arguments for a combination of grants for the very poor and income contingent loans for the lower income households to provide access to higher education.

The challenge of decolonisation: UCT's transformation journey. Max Price, Russell Ally. PoliticsWeb, 06 April 2016. This article discusses some of the issues in the debate that sets decolonisation in opposition to transformation.

The State of the Violent Nation. by Max Price, Guy Lamb. Mail & Guardian, 12 Feb 2013.

In this article, triggered by the horrific murder of Anene Booysen, Guy Lamb, director of the UCT Safety and Violence Initiative and I look at what government should do to address the levels of violent crime that is destroying communities.

In defence of race-based policy. Mail & Guardian, 06 Jan 2012

One of a series of articles explaining why race is used as a factor in considering student applications to the University of Cape Town.

Past sins revisited and corrected. Mail & Guardian, 13 Jan 2012.

A second article in the series on admissions policies and the defence of the ongoing use of race as a criterion. The argument presented is that it is not just a social good to increase diversity and redress, but that it is fair and will select the best students.

Research central to knowledge production and SA's development. Mail & Guardian, 05 Nov 2010

In this article I argue for the importance of research universities that are globally competitive, tackle global issues and blue sky research, and that this does not make them 'ivory towers'.

Do university rankings matter? Mail & Guardian, 24 Sep 2010.

University global ranking systems have biases and do not reflect many of the goals that a university might prioritise (such as improving access). However, as a measure of relative research strength, they are reasonable. Current global rankings  emphasise that if a country wishes to have any globally competitive research universities, it will have to support differentiation within the university sector and increased investment in research universities.

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