Wednesday, June 29, 2022
HomeTwo-thirds of Africans may have had COVID-19 -WHO

Two-thirds of Africans may have had COVID-19 -WHO

The World Health Organisation on Thursday said more than two-thirds of Africans might have contracted COVID-19 over the past two years, which it said was around 97 times more than reported cases of infections.

Following laboratory tests that detected 11.5 million COVID cases and 252,000 fatalities across the African continent, the WHO noted in its report that, as of September last year, about 800 million people could have already been infected by the virus.

It, notwithstanding, noted that the study was still being peer-reviewed, suggesting that the officially confirmed figures were “likely only scratching the surface of the real extent of Coronavirus infections in Africa”.

“A new meta-analysis of standardised seroprevalence study revealed that the true number of infections could be as much as 97 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases,” said WHO Africa boss Matshidiso Moeti.

“This suggests that more than two-thirds of all Africans have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus,” she added.

The report analysed more than 150 studies published between January 2020 and December last year, showing exposure to the virus had jumped from just three per cent in June 2020 to 65 per cent by September last year.

“In real terms, this means that in September 2021, rather than the reported 8.2 million cases, there were 800 million,” said Moeti.

The global average of true infection numbers is thus believed to be 16 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases.

WHO noted that with limited access to testing facilities for much of Africa’s populations, many infections went undetected, as testing was mainly carried out on symptomatic patients in hospitals and for travellers requiring negative PCR results.

“The focus was very much on testing people who were symptomatic when there were challenges in having access to testing supplies” and this resulted in “under-representing the true number of people who have been exposed and are infected by the virus,” Moeti told journalists.

– Pandemic fears proved wrong –

Moeti harped on the difficulty involved in producing accurate data within the African region owing to inadequate and under-resourced health facilities, especially since the purported 67 per cent of people on the continent had shown no prior symptoms of infection.

While the pandemic had etched its catastrophic impacts on many parts of the globe, the WHO said Africa appeared to have escaped the worst and was not as badly hit as initially feared at the onset of the pandemic.

But with weak health facilities and services, experts had feared the systems would be too overwhelmed to contain prevalence.

Several analyses have been made of the pattern of the pandemic in Africa, with some concluding that the continent’s youthful population acted as a buffer against severe illness.

In Ghana, the WHO study established that the most infected were young people, according to Dr Irene Owusu Donkor of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

It said although many African countries were accustomed to epidemics, the reported figures did not always reflect the reality.

The WHO, last year, did caution that six out of every seven COVID infections in Africa had gone undetected.

The organisation revealed that most COVID cases on the continent were recorded in South Africa – with over 3.7 million infections – which conducted most tests whilst boasting of better-resourced health facilities compared to most sub-Saharan African countries.

Even so, its official COVID fatality toll was believed to be much lower than the actual number of people killed by the virus.

According to the WHO report, the number of COVID-related deaths in South Africa could be triple the reported figures, going by the latest data compiled by the South African Medical Research Council.

It attested that between May 3, 2020, and last Saturday, April 2, 2022, South Africa recorded 303,969 excess deaths from natural causes  – yet official figures showed the virus had killed 100,075 people since the start of the pandemic.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
Google search engine

Most Popular

Recent Comments