The impact of the coronavirus in Africa has been largely underestimated

The impact of the coronavirus in Africa has been largely underestimated

In a study on more than 300 patients in Zambia, the average age of the deceased was 48, while in Italy 82. There are few swabs even in severe patients with typical symptoms of Covid-19. The figures are much higher than official estimates. The BMJ study

(photo: WikiImages via Pixabay) Coronavirus has not often been talked about in developing and poor countries of the world, especially in Africa, which has a much more devastating impact than ours. Here the mortality from Covid is much higher than that recorded in Europe and the average age of the deceased is 48 years, while in Italy it is 82 years in the second wave, according to data from the Higher Institute of Health. So much so that a group of scientists from the Boston University School of Public Health, together with the University of Zambia, indicate that the impact of the epidemic in Africa may have been "widely underestimated". Many of the people who died in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, had not received the test for coronavirus, despite presenting typical symptoms. The criticalities are described in a publication in the British Medical Journal.

Mortality, higher than reported

The study was conducted in Lusaka, therefore it is limited to this city, in the period from June to September 2020, when a truce of the pandemic was underway in ours and in some other countries, also thanks to the hot season. The researchers analyzed the swabs of 364 people who died within 48 hours of death. The results indicate that of the 364 patients, about 15-20% died from Covid-19, a higher percentage than that seen in richer countries. The percentage is, among other things, much higher than that reported by the estimates of the official authorities, which led to the belief that the impact of the coronavirus in Africa was contained or in any case less significant than expected.

Young people and even children die for Covid-19

Sore point: people under the age of 65 often die and there are also various cases among children. The average age of the deceased is only 48 years and in 70% of cases they are men. The really disheartening figure is that of the 52 people we also have information about on the symptoms, only 5 had received the test for coronavirus before death. In 44 cases out of 52 their symptoms were attributable to those of Covid-19, including cough, fever and breathing difficulties. Unfortunately, the sample considered also includes 7 children of whom only one case was swab for Sars-Cov-2. The most frequent previous pathologies in this sample are: tuberculosis in 31% of cases, high blood pressure in 27%, HIV and AIDS (23%), alcohol abuse (17%) and diabetes (13%).

Africa, more data is needed, which is correct

Contrary to expectations, there have been many deaths in Lusaka and mostly in communities and areas where access to diagnostic tests is lacking. The element that leaps to the eye is the fact that there has been an underestimation in the impact of Covid-19. Knowing the real spread of the epidemic and how much the coronavirus kills in all parts of the world is essential. It is necessary to know if a population is suffering, both to be able to provide them with help, and because otherwise the risk is to forget an entire part of the world in difficulty. For example, thinking that the spread of the virus is reduced can lead to less access to vaccines, a central tool in the fight against the pandemic.

However, the study has limitations, given that it is carried out in a single African city and with limited data, it was also unable to assess deaths from heart attack or stroke indirectly caused by Covid-19. The conclusions read that “the cases of Covid-19 have been under-reported because the tests were carried out rarely instead of the fact that Covid is rare. If these data are generalizable, the impact of Covid-19 in Africa has been largely underestimated ".

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