Gaborone – A report by the United States-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows that estimated daily infections, reported cases, hospitalisations, and reported deaths related to COVID-19 continue to decrease across Africa.
The report comes on the heels of the Africa Risk–Reward Index 2021, which shows the continent’s economy is starting to recover from the pandemic.
IHME on October 1 said, “Daily hospital census in the last week (through September 27) decreased to 39,400 per day on average compared to 45,100 the week before. Daily reported cases in the last week decreased to 13,600 per day on average compared to 17,300 the week before.
“Reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week decreased to 260 per day on average compared to 300 the week before.”
It says excess deaths due “to COVID-19 in the last week decreased to 790 per day on average compared to 870 the week before adding that this makes COVID-19 the number nine cause of death in the African region this week”, adding that “estimated excess daily deaths due to COVID-19 in the past week were three times larger than the reported number of deaths”.
“No locations had daily reported COVID-19 death rates greater than four per million. The daily rate of excess deaths due to COVID-19 is greater than four per million in eSwatini, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and South Africa. The infection-detection rate in the African Region was close to three percent on September 27,” the report says.
Researchers at IHME, however, said despite the decrease in reported COVID-19 cases, “we are seeing increasing transmission in 16 countries”.
But they remained optimistic that “in our reference scenario, we expect daily reported cases and deaths to continue decreasing through mid-October, after which we expect infections, cases, and deaths to climb through the end of the year”.
They projected 173,000 deaths by the end of the year, representing 30,000 additional reported deaths from September 27 to January 1; adding that universal mask use could save 16,000 lives.
“As we go into fall and more countries ease restrictions, these trends may be exacerbated by high mobility (currently 16 percent higher than the pre-COVID baseline) and low mask use (currently 49% reporting wearing a mask when leaving the home),” said IHME.
The institute said strategies for addressing the pandemic in the coming months include: promoting mask use and implementing other appropriate social distancing mandates to curb transmission and addressing global vaccine inequities by tackling supply constraints, including accelerated vaccine donations allocated to countries where needs are highest.
Other strategies for addressing the pandemic, the institute said, included messaging the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and improved monitoring of seroprevalence (the level of a pathogen in a population as measured in blood serum), particularly in countries where the infection-detection rate continues to be low and considerable uncertainty exists about the extent of past infections.
Another strategy includes monitoring the impact of vaccination and potential waning of immunity through reporting of cases, hospitalisations and deaths, disaggregated by vaccination status.
“Given the available evidence on waning immunity and lower efficacy of vaccines preventing infection as compared to hospitalisation and death, strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission to zero are unlikely to succeed. Ongoing COVID-19 transmission and burden on the health system are likely to extend past the forecast period and well into 2022 and beyond,” the report says.
The institute also observed that, “Economies are starting to recover and the virus is no longer an all-consuming issue infringing on every area of the investment landscape.”