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COVID-19 Africa Deaths Predicted 94% Down: WHO

FILE: A healthcare worker administers the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to a woman, amid the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 04, 2021

A new forecast by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that COVID-19 deaths in Africa are expected to decline by almost 94 percent in 2022, compared with 2021 which was the pandemic's most deadliest year.

An analysis published by Lancet Global Health is what the World Health Organization bases its prediction of a precipitous COVID death drop in Africa this year.

The findings indicate Africa reported 113,102 deaths in 2021 through official channels, with at least one in three deaths missed by those tallies. The accurate number, according to the report, was closer to 350,000.

The modeling suggests that around 23,000 deaths are expected by the end of 2022 if current patterns remain constant. The study said that is a drop of some 94 percent.

The study findings show that only one in 71 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the region, with 166.2 million infections projected in 2022 compared to an estimated 227.5 million in 2021.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti says that Africa lost an average of 970 people every day in 2021 which he considered catastrophic.

"Our latest analysis suggests that estimated deaths in the African region will shrink to around 60 a day in 2022. The low number of deaths expected this year is a huge achievement for the region and a testament to the efforts of countries and partners. However, the job is not yet done.”

The gap between the number of cases and deaths in 2022 is due to the increase in vaccination, the improvement of the response to the pandemic and the natural immunity due to previous infections which protect against severe forms of illness and death according to WHO’s findings.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, physician and infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health says that the biggest contributor to the drop in fatalities is the same everywhere in the world - the level of the total population's immunity.

“Many of the statistics that emanate from Africa have to be kind of taken in the context that many cases are not getting diagnosed. There may be problems with data accumulation that can limit what you're seeing but I think in general, seeing a decreased level of deaths is to be expected.

Health Experts Applaud Africa COVID Immunity Progress
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Interview conducted by VOA's Carol Van Dam (L)