Cureus. 2022 May 6;14(5):e24767. doi: 10.7759/cureus.24767. eCollection 2022 May.
INTRODUCTION: Africa has surprisingly recorded better gains in containing the coronavirus spread than countries with the better health indices, such as the USA and UK. The low rate of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and death in Africa represents a puzzle with different biological and social theories such as low COVID-19 testing capacity, substantial young population, few old people, favourable climate, genetic admixture, infectious disease antibodies, and sound community health care systems proposed. We aimed to understand the COVID-19 preventive measures in a group of twenty-one systematically selected African countries that may explain the low burden of COVID-19 in Africa.
METHODS: Data (COVID-19, health, socioeconomic, and demographics indices) of twenty-one systemically selected African countries were retrieved from the various official country and multilateral organization sources such as Worldbank, and the United nations development Programme (UNDP). The extracted data were analyzed in three large groups: international travel restrictions, physical and social distancing, and movement restrictions (lockdown measures; curfews, partial or/and national lockdowns). Data cleaning, analysis (including Pearson correlation), and visualization were done with Microsoft Excel and Graph Pad Prism version 9 (https://www.graphpad.com/).
RESULT: Southern Africa had the greatest number of cases and deaths within the period studied compared to East Africa, which was the least COVID-19 affected sub-region (in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths). We observed that coronary artery disease death rate was highly correlated with COVID-19 death density (number of COVID-19 deaths/total population) and similarly observed a correlation between the number of cases and deaths and number of in-country arrivals, pandemic preparedness (health security index), COVID-19 containment, and health index (not correlated with deaths). Finally, we noted that the most effective preventive strategy was the ‘use of a face mask’.
CONCLUSION: Africa had fewer COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related deaths. Our data shows that the rapidity and stringency of COVID-19 preventive measures and government policies, and the low level of tourism in Africa compared to other countries (i.e., low COVID-19 seeding rate) may have been contributory to these favorable statistics. We hope these findings impact how the preparedness for pandemics can be enhanced to decrease the burden of preventable deaths and morbidity.