Covid-19 is considered a thing of the past in Zimbabwe, as in most parts of Africa. Concerts, political rallies and larger private gatherings have long been allowed again. In fact, earlier this week, the African country had only reported 33 new infections and not a single new death. According to the World Health Organization, the numbers across the continent have been falling noticeably since July.
At least so far, this has not happened, which was feared at the beginning of the pandemic last year. The exact number of victims is unclear due to the inadequate data situation in some countries. But an uncontrolled spread with millions of dead could obviously be averted, reports “Welt”. Scientists have not yet found a clear explanation for the comparatively mild course of the pandemic in Africa.
There is something “puzzling about the development,” says Wafaa El-Sadr of Columbia University in New York. “Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and resources to fight Covid-19 like Europe or the US. But somehow things seem to be going better there, ”says the expert. Just under six percent of the continent’s population are vaccinated. And yet the WHO has been describing Africa in its weekly pandemic reports for months as “one of the least affected regions in the world”.
Researchers point to a number of factors that may have contributed to the positive trend. For one thing, the continent’s population is very young – the average age of Africans is around 20 while that of Western Europeans is around 43. In addition, urbanization is less pronounced. And large parts of everyday life take place outdoors. Some studies are currently investigating whether genetic reasons or the effects of other diseases could also play a role.
In a certain way, however, Africans may have been better prepared for the coronavirus than western industrialized societies. The authorities have experience in getting epidemics under control without vaccines, says Christian Happi, head of the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria.
Devi Sridhar, health scientist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, also emphasizes the quick reaction of some African governments when the crisis breaks out. Mali, for example, closed the borders before the first corona cases occurred in the country. The cultural approach in Africa is different, says Sridhar. “These countries have met Covid with a sense of humility because they have already experienced things like Ebola, polio and malaria.”