Africa on track to control pandemic this year: WHO

Africa is on track to control the COVID-19 pandemic this year if current trends continue, but vigilance will remain key, the head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office said on Thursday.

Since the first case on the continent was identified nearly two years ago, Africa has faced four waves of COVID-19, each with higher peaks or more total cases than the previous one.

These surges were mainly driven by new variants which, though highly transmissible, were not necessarily more fatal.

On average, each wave was roughly 23 per cent shorter than the one before, with the first lasting 29 weeks, while the fourth ended in six weeks.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said countries have got smarter, faster and better at responding to each new surge.

“Against the odds, including huge inequities in access to vaccination, we’ve weathered the COVID-19 storm with resilience and determination, informed by Africa’s long history and experience with controlling outbreaks,” she said.

However, she said Africa has paid a high price in the pandemic, with more than 242,000 lives lost and tremendous damage to economies.

COVID-19 has also pushed some 40 million people into extreme poverty, according to World Bank estimates.