According to the Africa CDC, the African Union Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate from coronavirus pandemics in Africa now exceeds the global average. 21 countries are particularly affected.
According to the CDC, 70% of Covid-19 patients in Africa are identified in five countries. South Africa, with 41% of cases, is far ahead. Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and finally Ethiopia follow. But “the CDC’s major concern”, according to director John Nkengasong, is today determined on deaths among patients.
This death rate is 2.5% of the registered cases, which is a world average of 2.2%. The director of the Africa CDC sees this as a turning point at the first wave, as this rate was then below the world average. Among the countries concerned, the CDC cites Sudan with a death rate of 6.2% of the cases found, Egypt (5.5%) or Liberia (4.4%).
Clogging of health systems
For the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this increase is linked to an acceleration in the number of coronavirus cases detected. Last month, the number grew by 14% every week in Africa. This increase can be clogged health systems in some countries, especially due to a limited amount of beds and equipment.
“When we see an increase in daily deaths, it means that health systems are entering a phase of stress,” explains John Nkengasong. It also means that we reach a point where nurses and doctors see their ability to care for patients diminish. Because of this, care is starting to fall short as we have fewer beds and less equipment available. ”
Africa The CDC director insists: “Africa needs a significant supply of oxygen, just to help with existing cases on the continent. This excessive mortality is not necessarily due to the new variants of the disease, it is just that our health systems are starting to be overwhelmed. I heard the director of the CDC in Nigeria say that some hospitals have had to figure out who will be treated and who will not. So the crisis is here, the second wave is violent here, and our healthcare systems are starting to get overwhelmed. “
But an epidemiologist working in Africa warns against too much dramatization: among other factors, the CDC figures, according to him, mainly illustrate an increase in “recruitment” according to the term. That is, for example, there are more people being admitted to the hospital today compared to the first wave. Which mechanically increases all the statistical data.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Director of the WHO in Africa, also recalls that this is only an average that does not apply to all countries, although it is necessary to ensure that these countries can mobilize enough carers and have enough supplies. “On average, we do not think mortality is much worse than elsewhere. But we must ensure that basic and quality care is provided, that there is enough oxygen – which is also starting to be a problem in some places – and also ensure that the sick have access to timely care. ”
Quid des variantssur le continent?
But experts are also concerned circulation of the South African variant on the continent. A mutant SARS-Cov-2 that does not appear more dangerous but spreads 1.5 times easier than coronavirus according to early studies.
So far, Botswana, Zambia and Gambia have confirmed the presence of the South African variant in their populations, the WHO says. But the organization believes it could circulate in other countries on the continent. The difficulty is being able to detect this virus. For this it is necessary to be able to sequence its genome, that is, read its genetic code.
And sequencing remains a challenge in many countries on the continent, as the director of the WHO in Africa, Matshidiso Moeti reminds us. “What we are doing at the WHO is working with several countries in Africa with laboratories that have the ability to sequence genomes, and we have offered other countries to send their samples to these laboratories to determine if it is the variant and if this viruses circulate on their soil or not. At the same time, we also help them develop their own sequencing capacity. Which is becoming more and more important for monitoring the virus. “
The question is whether this variant, like those detected in England or Brazil, is susceptible to vaccines. Investigations are underway, but Dr. Richard Mihigo, responsible for emergencies and vaccines at WHO Africa, is optimistic: “The first indications are clear that existing vaccines will be just as effective against some of these variants”.
WHO’s goal remains to see 20% of the vaccinated African population before the end of the year. To date, the continent is officially one of the continents least affected by Covid with discovered just over 3 million cases and nearly 82,000 deaths.