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We still don’t understand why COVID-19 numbers rank so low in Africa

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Bill and Melinda Gates in 2017, outside Seattle, WA. Credit: Gates Archives Contact: Courtney Wade, Executive Office of Melinda Gates Mobile:†(+1) 805-427-2513 email: courtney@pivotalventures.org † HIGH RES
  • Bill Gates has listed the reasons he believes COVID19 cases are ranking low in Africa
  • He thinks that the population is young compared with the rest of the world’s, and young people are less susceptible to the virus.
  • It could also be that its large rural population spends a lot of time outside, where it’s harder to spread the virus
  • Health worker’s efforts to focus on the coronavirus disrupted because they must still treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
  • COVID-19 stayed low on the list of health threats, but other problems came roaring back.

The American philanthropist who funds vaccines and research for COVID19 says he’s been wrong about COVID-19 rates predictions in Africa.

Bill Gates says the world still does not have enough data to understand why COVID-19 numbers have not been as high as predicted in Africa according to his end of the year Gates Notes.

“One thing I’m happy to have been wrong about—at least, I hope I was wrong—is my fear that COVID-19 would run rampant in low-income countries,” he wrote in his end of the year note.

“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.

He said that 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.

Another reason could be that its large rural population spends a lot of time outside, where it’s harder to spread the virus. It is also possible—though I hope this is not the case—that the true numbers are higher than they look because gaps in poor countries’ health care systems are making it hard to monitor the disease accurately.

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.

Melinda Gates previously said the developing world will be hard-hit, she added that she foresees bodies lying around in the street of African countries.

Bill Gates said, “we don’t have enough data yet to understand why the numbers aren’t as high as I worried they would get” — but gave probable reasons Africa was not as affected as expected.

Gates said one of his fears that have been justified is that “COVID-19 is having a ripple effect with other diseases. Last month, I was surprised to learn that it was only the 31st most common cause of death in Africa. By comparison, it has ranked number four around the world, and number one in America.”

This is another reason why the world’s goal should be to make sure that lifesaving tools reach—and are practical for—every country, not just rich ones.

“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.

“Another reason is that patients are more reluctant to go to clinics for fear they might become infected—and that means more severe conditions are going undiagnosed. In India, for example, the diagnosis rate for tuberculosis has dropped by roughly a third. With more undetected cases, more people will probably die from the disease.

“This is another reason why the world’s goal should be to make sure that lifesaving tools reach—and are practical for—every country, not just rich ones.”

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Written by nationscoops

↯Nation Scoops specializes in reporting on global news stories—including politics, entertainment, faith, business

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