Bill Gates, a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), says the world still does not have enough data to understand why COVID-19 numbers have not been as high as predicted in Africa.
The American philanthropist who invests heavily in healthcare in Africa said he is, however, happy to have been wrong about COVID-19 rates in Africa.
Bill Gates had warned early 2020 that Africa could be the worse hit by COVID-19, stating at a conference that the virus would overwhelm health systems in the world’s poorest continent. But this has not been the case and the world does not understand why.
Cases in Africa have remained relatively low compared to Europe, Asia and the Americas.
According to data obtained from The ICIR COVID-19 Dashboard that tracks cases of virus, 80,281,154 cases have been reported, while 1,759,131 deaths reported as of the time of this report.
Africa has only reported 2,638,562 cases and 62,052 deaths.
While Europe has a total cases of 22,477,627 with 517,332 deaths, Northern America reported 22,065,100 cases, with 493,870 deaths, South America 12,817,926 cases and 355,079 deaths, Asia 20,233,351 cases and 329,731 deaths.
According to him, “So far, this hasn’t been true. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, case rates and death rates remain much lower than in the U.S. or Europe and on par with New Zealand, which has received so much attention for its handling of the virus.”
“The hardest-hit country on the continent is South Africa—but even there, the case rate is 40 percent lower than in the U.S., and the death rate is nearly 50 percent lower.”
“We don’t have enough data yet to understand why the numbers aren’t as high as I worried they would get. It helped that some countries locked down early. In Africa, another reason may be that the population is young compared with the rest of the world’s, and young people are less susceptible to the virus.
Why does it rank so low in Africa? It’s not just the relatively low incidence of COVID-19 there. It’s also because shifting health workers to focus on the coronavirus disrupted efforts to detect and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. As a result, COVID-19 stayed low on the list of health threats, but other problems came roaring back,” he said.