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Review

What Could Explain the Lower COVID-19 Burden in Africa despite Considerable Circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus?

1
Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies, Northeastern University, 201 Renaissance Park, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA
2
Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium
3
DUNDEX (Deployable U.N.-Experienced Development Experts), FX68 Belturbet, Ireland
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School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
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School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 1C9, Canada
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Researcher Africa Institute for Health Policy Foundation, Nairobi 020, Kenya
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T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Anthony R. Mawson and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8638; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168638
Received: 7 July 2021 / Revised: 13 August 2021 / Accepted: 13 August 2021 / Published: 16 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Outbreak of a Novel Coronavirus: A Global Health Threat)
The differential spread and impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), across regions is a major focus for researchers and policy makers. Africa has attracted tremendous attention, due to predictions of catastrophic impacts that have not yet materialized. Early in the pandemic, the seemingly low African case count was largely attributed to low testing and case reporting. However, there is reason to consider that many African countries attenuated the spread and impacts early on. Factors explaining low spread include early government community-wide actions, population distribution, social contacts, and ecology of human habitation. While recent data from seroprevalence studies posit more extensive circulation of the virus, continuing low COVID-19 burden may be explained by the demographic pyramid, prevalence of pre-existing conditions, trained immunity, genetics, and broader sociocultural dynamics. Though all these prongs contribute to the observed profile of COVID-19 in Africa, some provide stronger evidence than others. This review is important to expand what is known about the differential impacts of pandemics, enhancing scientific understanding and gearing appropriate public health responses. Furthermore, it highlights potential lessons to draw from Africa for global health on assumptions regarding deadly viral pandemics, given its long experience with infectious diseases. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Africa; SARS-CoV-2 virus spread; lower COVID-19 disease burden; African populations; demographic pyramid; trained immunity; government measures COVID-19 pandemic; Africa; SARS-CoV-2 virus spread; lower COVID-19 disease burden; African populations; demographic pyramid; trained immunity; government measures
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wamai, R.G.; Hirsch, J.L.; Van Damme, W.; Alnwick, D.; Bailey, R.C.; Hodgins, S.; Alam, U.; Anyona, M. What Could Explain the Lower COVID-19 Burden in Africa despite Considerable Circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8638. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168638

AMA Style

Wamai RG, Hirsch JL, Van Damme W, Alnwick D, Bailey RC, Hodgins S, Alam U, Anyona M. What Could Explain the Lower COVID-19 Burden in Africa despite Considerable Circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(16):8638. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168638

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wamai, Richard G., Jason L. Hirsch, Wim Van Damme, David Alnwick, Robert C. Bailey, Stephen Hodgins, Uzma Alam, and Mamka Anyona. 2021. "What Could Explain the Lower COVID-19 Burden in Africa despite Considerable Circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus?" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 16: 8638. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168638

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