COVID-19 deaths in Africa are expected to decline by almost 94 per cent in 2022 compared to last year, a new modelling report by World Health Organization (WHO) finds.
Cases, the report noted, are estimated to drop by a little over a quarter this year.
The analysis has found that while the continent reported 113,102 deaths in 2021 through official channels, about one in three deaths were missed and the true number of deaths was 350,000.
The modelling suggests that around 23,000 deaths are expected by the end of 2022 if current variants and transmission dynamics remain constant. However, a variant that is 200 per cent more lethal would cause an increase in deaths to more than 70,000.
“Last year, we lost an average of 970 people every day. This is a catastrophically high toll,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“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. Every time we sit back and relax, COVID-19 flares up again. The threat of new variants remains real, and we need to be ready to cope with this ever-present danger.”
A significant number of cases have also gone unreported. The findings infer that only one in 71 COVID-19 cases in the region are recorded and 166.2 million infections are anticipated in 2022, compared with the estimated 227.5 million in 2021.
The gap in number of cases and deaths in 2022 has been possible due to increasing vaccination, improved pandemic response, and natural immunity from previous infections.
The divergence in cases and deaths has been especially evident in the latest six-week surge in southern Africa, where the average reported deaths hovered at nearly 200 a week, compared with more than 44,000 new weekly average case numbers. For the past two weeks, new cases have decreased after four consecutive weeks of increase across Africa, signalling the possibility that the latest surge has reached its peak.
In 2021, the African region experienced a particularly deadly pandemic, with the analysis estimating that COVID-19 was the seventh major cause of death, just below malaria; while in 2020, the virus was the 22nd major cause of deaths in the region.
The significant increase in deaths in 2021 was caused by the highly infectious Delta variant.
Learn More: The World Health Organization – Africa
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