COVID-19 threatens Africa

Approximately a year ago, China startled the world with its discovery of an epidemic named Corona Virus, later renamed COVID-19. Within a month the epidemic had assumed the status of a pandemic and half of the world’s population was in lockdown as governments struggled to contain the spread. Expectedly, heightened chills went through the spines of African governments as they waited and weighed the step forward for their citizens. The pandemic entered the continent mainly from outside the continent.  In the early stages of the pandemic, international flights ferried travelers into several Africa countries, thus confounding leaders as to the spread of the virus. Africa became fodder for the cynics who hypocritically maligned and even mocked the continent through bogus hypotheses and untested theories that for lack of advanced medicine a third of the African population would be dead.  One year later those wistful and condescending propositions by those who looked down on anything African and its people had not manifested.

Several of the scientific models fashioned for the continent in the early stages of the pandemic proved to be false, because the models were built unsurprisingly mainly on data from outside Africa without factoring in Africans. Genetically and immunologically, Africans are quite different from Europeans and so therefore “the one size fits all” notion was scientifically inaccurate in comparing and contrasting COVID-19 between Africans and the rest of the world.

The continent did not panic in the pandemic but followed conventional wisdom and executed partial or total lockdowns within, and closed ports of entry to stem the spread. Africa heeded to the advice of local and international experts and the protocols of the World Health Organization by emphasizing benefits of wearing face masks, hand washing, and practicing safe distancing among its citizens.

As the pandemic sliced through humanity without regards to race, religion, sex or creed, big Pharma raced to come up with vaccines against the spread. Encouraging news from pharmaceutical conglomerates were announced in November of last year, and the first shots were administered by Christmas time amidst some 1.8 million deaths worldwide and 80 million infections. But then a second strain of the virus appeared as had been predicted by experts.

Britain was the first to detect the new variant that had spread beyond Europe, including in South Africa, South Korea, Nigeria, the U.S. and other countries. At Ede in southeastern Nigeria Professor Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) has identified a new strain of COVID-19.  The Harvard-trained professor of molecular biology, has, however, cautioned against linking the detected strain in Nigeria to other newly discovered strains elsewhere.

The impact of the magnitude of the second wave of infections is unclear and we urge African governments to not let their guard down but rather strengthen and update existing rules and regulations to contain spread of the virus. As Africa waits for the vaccine, the most logical step is strict observance and adherence to the protocol developed by the WHO. Doses of natural remedies such as basking in the sun and utilizing known natural herbs could hold the fort till the vaccine arrives on the continent. Within some minority communities in the U.S. vaccine shots are met with skepticism, not necessarily for lack of knowledge or understanding but rather lack of trust, misconception, and public confidence in the

establishment, even though these communities have higher degree of contracting the disease. The Tuskegee Experiment is a case in point.

Even though Africa has thus far recorded about 3.6 percent cases globally, the continent must not rest on its oars, because far more less testing is done. As such Its death toll is understandably less than a fifth of the United States

Amandla calls for aggressive education and awareness, as well as efficient and effective community involvement through religious, civic and social bodies in information dissemination on COVID-19 and matters arising.  

Posted by on Jan 2 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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