Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

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

Version 1 : Received: 22 May 2021 / Approved: 24 May 2021 / Online: 24 May 2021 (09:56:05 CEST)

How to cite: 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?. Preprints 2021, 2021050549 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0549.v1). 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?. Preprints 2021, 2021050549 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0549.v1).

Abstract

COVID-19 differential spread and impacts 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 also reason to consider that many African countries got out ahead of the virus early on. Factors explaining low spread include early government mandated lockdowns, 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. Also, highlighting potential lessons the world may draw from Africa for global health on assumptions regarding deadly viral pandemics given its long experience with infectious diseases.

Subject Areas

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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