July 28, 2021

“There is no longer an African exception”

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With 5.7 million reported cases and less than 150,000 deaths, Africa has so far appeared to be the region of the world most spared from the Covid-19 pandemic. The spread of the Delta variant, identified in at least fifteen countries, is a game-changer as the continent faces a third wave amid a shortage of vaccines.

Head of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), John Nkengasong expresses the great disappointment of Africans with regard to the Covax international solidarity initiative.

So far, Africa seemed relatively spared from Covid-19. Is the diffusion of the Delta variant changing the game?

John Nkengasong In the space of four weeks, the situation has become very alarming on the continent. At least twenty-three countries are facing a third wave. The number of contaminations exceeds the peak of the previous wave. It is no exaggeration to say that several countries are now going through the situation that India had to face, with saturated hospitals, a lack of oxygen to take care of the sick. In Zambia and Uganda, due to a lack of places, patients must be treated outside health structures.

Read also Africa facing Covid-19: the continent worries about a third wave

For eighteen months, Africa had shown its ability to push back the epidemic. But because of the lack of access to vaccines, it’s over. We are no longer an exception. The number of cases is increasing, there are deaths everywhere.

The situation remains very different according to the regions of the continent with a high concentration of cases in South Africa and North Africa. How is this heterogeneity explained?

Africa is a continent of fifty-five countries [selon l’Union africaine qui reconnaît le Sahara occidental] with very different levels of development, health infrastructure and surveillance systems. This diversity of situation is therefore not surprising.

However, the rebound of the epidemic in South Africa and in neighboring countries coincides with the southern winter. The cold leads people to live more inside houses where the risk of contamination is greater. The countries that report the most cases are also those with the greatest testing capacity. As I often repeat: when we test, we find.

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