It’s nearly 2 years since Africa identified its first case of #COVID19.
If current trends continue, the Region 🌍 is on track to control the #COVID19 pandemic this year. But we must continue testing & surveillance, and increasing #vaccine uptake ➡️ https://t.co/q5APzdXGjG pic.twitter.com/P1hdpZOce9
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) February 10, 2022
These surges were mainly driven by new variants which, though highly transmissible, were not necessarily more fatal.
Against the odds
On average, each wave was roughly 23 per cent shorter than the one before, with the first lasting 29 weeks, while the fourth ended in six weeks.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said countries have got smarter, faster and better at responding to each new surge.
“Against the odds, including huge inequities in access to vaccination, we’ve weathered the COVID-19 storm with resilience and determination, informed by Africa’s long history and experience with controlling outbreaks,” she said.
However, she said Africa has paid a high price in the pandemic, with more than 242,000 lives lost and tremendous damage to economies.
COVID-19 has also pushed some 40 million people into extreme poverty, according to World Bank estimates.
End in sight
Meanwhile, every month that emergency containment measures stay in place costs the continent roughly $13.8 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Although COVID-19 will be with us for the long-term, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This year we can end the disruption and destruction the virus has left in its path, and gain back control over our lives,” Dr Moeti said.
“Controlling this pandemic must be a priority,” she added “but we understand no two countries have had the same pandemic experience, and each country must, therefore, chart its own way out of this emergency.”
During the first COVID-19 wave, the proportion of infected people who died from the disease was high, 2.5 per cent. The figure rose during the second wave, driven by the Beta variant, reaching 2.7 per cent, but had dropped to 2.4 per cent by the Delta-powered third wave.
In contrast, the fourth wave ratio was low, 0.8 per cent, representing the first time a wave’s surge in cases has not led to a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and deaths.