Neither study necessarily changes our current big picture understanding of the pandemic — that wealthy countries often saw worse outcomes than developing nations.
However, they could have a big impact on the debate about how and why African nations were forgotten by wealthy nations during the pandemic — especially as the European Union and the African Union meet in a joint summit in Brussels and the World Health Organization pushes for wealthy nations to back a South African facility that aims to share mRNA technology.
“In Africa, 83 percent of people still have not received a single dose,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday at a Vaccine Equity for Africa event in Germany. “This is not only a moral failure, it is also an epidemiological failure, which is creating the ideal conditions for new variants to emerge.”
The coronavirus devastated almost every corner of the globe, even wealthy countries like the United States or Britain.Africa was a different story. The continent “appears to have bucked the doomsday predictions of global health experts,” my colleagues wrote in December 2020.
This trend has held up largely despite the rapid-spreading Omicron variant that was first discovered in southern Africa last year. One-fifth of the world’s population lives in Africa, but the continent has accounted for only a tiny sliver of confirmed cases around the world.
According to Our World in DataMid-February saw 2.7 percent of confirmed covid-19 cases on the continent. North America had 22 percent of global cases, while Europe had more than a third.
However, reliable public tracking of daily covid-19 cases depends on something: easy access and infrastructure to track and administer coronavirus results. Many African countries had neither during the pandemic.
In a preprint studyA WHO-backed team of researchers released this week a report that looked at data on people in Africa with covid-19 antibodies. These studies, known as seroprevalence surveys, use bloodwork to show who has some level of immunity to the coronavirus — whether through vaccinations or a previous infection.
The study found that levels of immunity in Africa appeared to be vastly higher than could be explained by official case numbers, even when combined with the continent’s paltry vaccination levels. All the countries surveyed had much higher levels of immunity that official statistics show. Nigeria was at 958 to 1.
In September 2021, more than 65 percent of the continent was protected from covid-19,According to the study, This, the authors write, suggests there had not been 8.2 million cases across the continent by that time — but 800 million.
Did anyone notice if this were true? One possibility, raised by the WHO-backed study, is that many of the cases in Africa may have been asymptomatic — perhaps more than two-thirds. Most African countries are younger than North America and Europe. This means that they are less likely to get serious illness from coronavirus.
This idea seems supported by the relatively low number of deaths caused by covid-19 across Africa. Only 4 percent of global deaths were reported in Africa, according to to Our World in Data.
There are many indicators that covid-19 deaths are not always recorded in official figures. Even in the United States, the number of “excess deaths” recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are not directly attributed to covid-19 is roughly 100,000.
Many African countries don’t have the data required to calculate excess mortality. A small, but innovative study was published. by the World BankThis week, we used an unusual method to estimate pandemic deaths for Kenya: A popular obituary site.
By looking back at several years on the website — which was used because better data did not exist — the researchers were able to see how past trends compared to the pandemic years. Their conclusion was that since the start of the pandemic, there have been roughly 28,000 “excess deaths” during the pandemic period, compared with just 5,520 recorded in official government figures.
Nicive study is able to provide an exhaustive account of covid-19 usage in Africa. They are a way to better understand the many gaps in knowledge on covid-19 that still exist two years after the pandemic.
It is possible to see unexpected knock-on effects if we consider the fact that both deaths and cases in Africa were substantially undercounted. It may lead to a lower demand for coronavirus vaccinations in Africa. There are many groups to choose from, including the WHO’s Africa branchThe worst is already over for the continent, according to a recent analysis. This factor will need to be addressed in any manufacturing plan on the continent, according to a recent analysis. by the Center for Global Development argued.
It also refutes the notion that covid-19 is a disease only for wealthy countries. Other studies have demonstrated that wealthy countries had different experiences. Excess deaths can be analyzed globally and the vast majority of them will die. may have been in the developing world. Africa wasn’t miraculously spared from the pandemic, and there’s little reason to think it could not be hit far harder next time.