May 15 2020
A modelling study by World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that Covid-19 could kill an estimated 150,000 people and infects nearly 200 million others within a year in Africa.
“Our model points to the scale of the problem for health systems if containment measures fail,” said authors of the research which was published today in BMJ Global Health journal.
World health authorities have been fearful of a full scale Covid-19 outbreak such as that happened in Europe in developing countries where fragile health systems are already struggling with an array of other chronic diseases.
The WHO Africa experts who did the study had modelled likely rates of exposure to the virus and infection in the 47 countries under its regional remit, which excludes Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.
According to their findings, some 231 million people, or 22 percent (with a range of 16 to 26 percent) of the one billion people in the region were expected to be infected within a 12-month period, with most of them showing few or no symptoms.
An estimated 4.6 million of those infected would need to be admitted to hospital, while 140,000 would have severe infection and 89,000 would be critically ill.
The study suggested that such a scenario would lead to some 150,000 deaths.
The study also warned that overwhelming Covid-19 cases would divert already limited resources from other major health issues in the region, such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition.
This month the United Nations said the number of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa could double if the provision of healthcare to HIV sufferers is disrupted during the Covid-19 crisis.
The authors of WHO research said that more younger people in the region will be infected and that the virus would likely circulate there longer than other parts of the world, possibly for several years.
They calculated each country’s “gathering factor” (including family size and population density), people’s likely ease of movement, sanitation, hygiene practices as well as measures to control the spread of the virus, including physical distancing.
Also taken into consideration was the weather factor as it was suggested that warmer temperatures may slow down the spread of Covid-19.
The researchers called for countries to rapidly boost healthcare capacity, particularly in primary hospitals.