The World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr.
Matshidiso Moeti said that if current trends continue, the Africa continent can control the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022.
This was made known by the global health body in a press statement on Thursday.
Moeti said that, over the past two years, the African continent has gotten smarter, faster, and better at responding to each new surge in cases of COVID-19.
She then warned that continued vigilance is crucial to taming the viral pandemic.
Thou over the last two years, the continent has witnessed four waves of COVID-19, each with higher peaks or more total new cases than the previous one.
The surges have been mostly driven by new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—which were highly transmissible though not necessarily more fatal than prior waves.
“Each subsequent wave has triggered a response that has been more effective than the previous, with each surge shorter by 23 percent on average from the one before.
While the first wave lasted about 29 weeks, the fourth wave was over in six weeks, or about a fifth of the time,” it said in a press.
“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.
But COVID-19 has cost us dearly, with more than 242 000 lives lost and tremendous damage to our economies,” She said.
According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have pushed up to 40 million people into extreme poverty on the continent, and every month of delay in lifting containment measures is estimated to cost Africa US$ 13.
8 billion in lost gross domestic product.
“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,” added Dr.
“Controlling this pandemic must be a priority, 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.
WHO noted that when Africa experienced its first wave, attributed to the spread of the wild SARS-CoV-2 virus, the average case fatality ratio—or the proportion of infected people who die from COVID-19—was high (2.
It further revealed that the figure rose to 2.
7 percent during the Beta-driven second wave, before going back down to 2.
4 percent during the Delta-powered third wave.
In contrast, the average CFR during the fourth wave is low (0.
8 percent), representing the first time a wave’s surge in cases has not led to a commensurate increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
“Since the start of the pandemic, the continent’s capacity to manage COVID-19 cases has gradually improved, with the increased availability of trained health workers, oxygen and other medical supplies.
The number of Intensive Care Unit beds has increased across the continent, from 8 per 1 million people in 2020 to 20 today.
She further said that “WHO has also helped increase the number of oxygen production plants in Africa from 68 to 115 – a 60 percent rise – through supporting the repair, maintenance, and procurement of new oxygen plants.
Where plants have been set up, the cost of oxygen has decreased by 40 percent.
Despite these improvements, oxygen availability remains a concern, and a large majority of patients who require oxygen as part of their clinical treatment plan are unable to access it,”
COVID-19: Africa can control the pandemic in 2022 -WHO