Scientists stunned, wary, as Africa avoids COVID disaster

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — At a busy market in a poor township outside Harare this week, Nyasha Ndou kept his mask in his pocket, like hundreds of other people, usually unmasked, pushed to buy and sell fruit and vegetables on display on wooden tables and plastic plates. if in a lot of of Zimbabwe, here the coronavirus is quickly relegated to the past, such as political rallies, concerts and home meetings have returned.

“COVID-19 is gone, when will you have? last to belong of anyone who has passed away of COVID-19?” Ndou said. “The mask is to protect my pocket,” he said. “The police demand bribes so I lose money if i don’t move in the surroundings of with a mask.” Earlier this week Zimbabwe registered just 33 new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths, in line with a recent fall in the sickness over across the continent, where data from the World Health Organization show that the number of infections has decreased since July.

When the coronavirus first emerged last year, health officials feared the pandemic could spread over Africa would spread, killing millions. Although it is still unclear what COVID-19 is ultimate toll will be, that catastrophic scenario has yet to materialize in Zimbabwe of a lot of of the continent.

Scientists emphasize that met especially getting accurate COVID-19 data in African countries with patchy surveillance, is extremely difficult, and warn that declining coronavirus trends can be easily reversed.

But there is something “mysterious” going on on in Africa that scientists in confusion, said Wafaa El-Sadr, chairman of global health at Columbia University. “Africa does not have the vaccines and the resources to… fight COVID-19 die they have in Europe and the US, but on the one of other way they seem to do better,” she said.

Less than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated. For months, the WHO has described Africa as “one of the least affected regions in the world” in its weekly pandemic reports.

Some researchers say the continent is younger population — the average age is 20 versus about 43 years in Western Europe – in in addition to their lower rates of urbanization and propensity for spend time outdoors, it may have the more deadly effects of the virus so far. Investigate various studies of there may be other explanations, including genetic reasons of exposure to other diseases.

Christian Happi, director of the African Center of Excellence for genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, said authorities are used to curbing outbreaks even without vaccines, and credited the extensive networks of community health workers.

“It’s not always about how a lot of money you have of how your hospitals are sophisticated,” he said.

Devi Sridhar, Chairman of global public health at university of Edinburgh, said African leaders have not been given credit die they deserve for act quickly, citing Mali’s decision to close its borders before COVID-19 had even arrived.

“I think there is a different cultural approach” in Africa, where these countries have approached COVID with a feeling of humility because they’ve been through things like Ebola, polio and malaria,” Sridhar said.

In past For months, the coronavirus has ravaged South Africa and is estimated to have killed people more than 89,000 people there by far the most deaths on the continent. But for now African authorities, while recognizing that there may be gaps, are not reporting huge numbers of unexpected fatalities die possibly related met covid. WHO data show die deaths in make Africa up just 3% of the global total. In comparison: deaths in account America and Europe for 46% and 29%.

In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, government has so far recorded nearly 3,000 deaths among the 200 million population. The US records that every two of many deaths for three days.

The low numbers have Nigerians like Opemipo Are, a 23-year-old in Abuja, relieved. “They Said There Will Be” dead bodies on the streets and stuff, but nothing? like that happened,” she said.

Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sit on several WHO advisory groups, suggested that Africa may not even need as many vaccines as the West. It’s an idea that, while controversial, he says is seriously discussed among African scientists – and is reminiscent of of the British officials proposal made last March to release COVID-19 the . to infect population until build up immunity.

That doesn’t mean vaccines aren’t necessary, though in Africa.

“We need vaccinate all out to prepare for the next wave,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist at the University of South Africa of KwaZulu-Natal, who previously advised the South African government on COVID-19. “Looking at What Happens” in Europe, the probability of more spill cases over here is very high.”

The consequences of the coronavirus has also been relative muted in arm countries like Afghanistan, where experts predicted outbreaks amid ongoing conflict, prove disastrous.

Hashmat Arifi, a 23-year-old student in Kabul, said he hadn’t seen it anyone wearing a mask in months, including at a recent wedding die he attended next to hundreds of visitors. In his university classes, more than 20 students are routinely exposed in close neighbourhoods.

“I have not seen any cases” of corona lately,” said Arifi. So far, Afghanistan has recorded about 7,200 deaths among 39 million people, though little was tested amid the conflict and the actual numbers of cases and deaths are unknown.

Back in Zimbabwe, doctors were grateful for the COVID-19 hiatus – but feared it was only temporary.

“People should remain very vigilant,” warned Dr. Johannes Marisa, President of the medical and dental private practitioners of Zimbabwean Association. He fears there would be another coronavirus wave hit Zimbabwe next month. “Complacency is what’s going to happen” destroy us because we might be caught unknowingly.”


Cheng reported from London. Rahim Faiez in Islamabad, Pakistan and Chinedu Asadu in Lagos contributed to this report.

Read More: World News


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