A small number of coronavirus infections in Africa. Scientists surprised

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the government has so far recorded nearly 3,000 deaths among the 200 million population. The United States records as many deaths every two or three days, said the Indian Express on Friday.

When the coronavirus first hit the continent last year, health officials feared a pandemic would sweep Africa, killing millions and destroying fragile health systems. While it is still unclear what the final toll of Covid-19 will be, much of this catastrophic scenario has yet to materialize.

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In recent months, the coronavirus has hit South Africa and estimated to have killed over 89,000 people there. people, by far the largest number on the continent.

At the same time, scientists admit that in African countries it is extremely difficult to obtain specific data on coronavirus infections and warn that the trend of reducing the incidence may be reversed.

“Africa has no vaccines and no resources to fight Covid-19”

However, something “mysterious” is happening in Africa, which puzzles scientists – said Prof. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of infectious disease at Columbia University.

“Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and the resources to fight Covid-19, which are in Europe, but I think it is doing better,” she said.

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In Africa, only less than 6 percent. people are vaccinated. For months, the WHO described Africa in its weekly pandemic reports as “one of the world’s least affected regions”.

Some scientists believe that the average age on the continent – 20 compared to 43 in Western Europe, as well as the low degree of urbanization and life outside, may have saved Africa the more lethal effects of the coronavirus so far. Research is also ongoing to see if there could be other explanations for the continent’s relatively low incidence, including genetic causes or exposure to other conditions.

“It’s not always about how much money you have or how modern your hospitals are.”

Christian Happi, director of the African Center for Infectious Disease Genomics at Redeemer University in Nigeria, said authorities are used to containing outbreaks even without vaccination and attribute it to a vast network of social health workers. “It’s not always about how much money you have or how modern your hospitals are,” he said.

Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sits on several WHO advisory groups, suggested that Africa may not even need as many vaccines as the West. It’s an idea that is controversial but says it is seriously debated among African scientists. At the same time, he emphasizes that this does not mean that Africa does not need vaccines.

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“We need vaccinations to prepare for the next wave,” said epidemiologist Abul Karim of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal University, who previously served as a Covid-19 advisor to the South African government.

ml // PAP

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