How Africa stunned the world by "beating" Covid-19

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2 years ago

Billionaire and founder of tech giant Microsoft, Bill Gates recently voiced his surprise as to why the death rate in Africa due to Covid-19 was lower than what had been anticipated. He was astonished by this fact. There's a popular African saying that goes thus

"Cow when no get tail, na God dey drive fly away from am"

The meaning of this saying is that for the cow that lacks a tail to keep flies at Bay like it's peers, It is God that protects it from the flies by keeping them away from it. In every day life, this saying translates to the fact that it is God that provides a means or a way out for an individual who lacks the means his or her peers has to scale through similar challenges that they use the resources (which he or she lacks) at their disposal to solve.

While America and Europe are yet to fully recover from the effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic with possibility of more nations declaring lockdowns as the second wave of infections looms, Africa has somehow managed to weather the storm of the pandemic despite the obvious deficit of financial and technological resources in comparison to her Western counterparts.

Several possible reasons have been adduced to be responsible for Africa's victory against the pandemic. I will attempt to shed some light on some of these suggested reasons. While some of them seem plausible and logical, others are outrightly laughable upon critical analysis.

The hot weather in Africa did not allow the virus to thrive

This theory suggests that the reason for the lower rate of spread of the pandemic in some African countries should be attributed to their hot weather. The theory claims that the virus cannot thrive in places with hot weather hence that is why such African countries did not experience high rate of spread or infections. The theory looks pretty solid but there's just one problem. There were rather high number of infections or cases in the Middle East as well as some North African countries. These regions are characterised by high temperatures, infact higher than what is obtainable in most (other) African countries which did not have similar number of high cases. So it certainly wasn't the high temperature (at least not alone) that was responsible for the lower number of cases observed in those countries.

Corona virus is just like severe malaria fever

This theory gained widespread popularity especially afte those who had been treated at the isolation centres came out to state the drug regimen they had been subjected to in the course of their treatment while in isolation. This theory seemed to gain further credence after a physician in the United States who claimed to have treated malaria in Africa said she used similar drugs to treat covid-19 patients with no fatalities.

The problem with this theory is that that the only similarity between both illnesses is the high temperature (fever) of the patient. Covi-19 is caused by a virus while malaria fever is caused by malaria parasite. Covi-19 is also accompanied by loss of smell and taste with respiratory complications in severe cases which doesn't usually happen with malaria fever.

Agreed that from our years of battling malaria in Africa our immune system has grown to survive with the parasite hence giving us some advantage over our Western counterparts who have never encountered malaria. It may not however be entirely accurate to attribute the situation in Africa to simply be because Covid-19 is just like severe malaria.

Africa's comprehensive infant immunization programme gave it an edge

I recently stumbled across this theory during a discussion with a senior colleague on how we've managed to survive the pandemic without so many casualties. He had opined that we should be thankful to divine Providence for smiling on us as per the level of casualty and damage done by the virus in Africa when compared to the West. He then stated that some had suggested that the robust immunization programme particularly BCG for infants in Africa may have been what gave us the edge in the fight against the virus. This theory seemed more plausible than others that I had heard of but requires scientific scrunity to ascertain if it is indeed credible.

The Covid-19 strain that hit most parts of Africa is not as deadly as the Western or European variant

There have been reports that there are different strains of the Covid-19 virus with different degrees of virulence. The Smithsonian magazine has an article which shed some insight on the strains of the Covid-19 virus. See link below for article. There's also a suggestion that as the virus evolves it is likely to become less deadly.

With this in mind and considering the different levels of impact of the virus in different parts of the world, one could say that it is indeed possible that the variant of the virus that hit Africa was not as deadly as the one that struck in America and Europe. I tend to align with this theory as there is some scientific evidence that it can stand on.

There is still so much that we do not know about the Covid-19 virus as the scientific research to fully understand it is still a work in progress. However in time hopefully scientists can provide us with a fact based explanation as to the reason(s) why the pandemic was not generally as deadly in Africa when compared to other parts of the globe.

Lest I forget there is one totally ridiculous theory which is that Covid-19 never got to Africa in the first place. This theory has sadly gained widespread acceptance in some countries like Nigeria due to the manner in which the pandemic was handled by the government.








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Written by
2 years ago