COVID in Africa Update

There are logical explanations for low numbers of COVID-19 cases on the African content. 

First, let’s look at some numbers that indicate a lower rate of infection among African countries. According to Reuters sources, [], reported cases on the African continent have begun to decline after a peak around July of this year. The population of Africa is estimated at 1.4 billion. Of five African countries polled 8,125,000 documented cases of COVID-19 have been reported, with a total record to date of 203,000 deaths. At the end of December 2020, approximately 10,000 new cases were reported, and by September 12, 2021, over 40,000 daily cases are being reported. At no point between the two dates did the number of cases dip below the baseline 10,000 cases. In that same period, the baseline reported deaths rose from zero to 1,000. Again, it is important to note that this represents only 5 of the 54 countries in Africa.

Of the five countries reporting infections, Ethiopia has the least number of daily COVID-19 cases, and South Africa has the most, coming in at 5,253. However, according to the Reuters graphs, all of these reporting African countries are beginning to show a decline in new cases. Of them, all but Ethiopia are reporting a daily decrease in COVID deaths. 

According to the BBC [], 3% of the African population has been vaccinated by September of 2021. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 158,000,000 doses have been sent to the African continent. In the BBC graph above, you will see the number of vaccinated Africans by country.

These numbers vary. According to Statista [], 7,076,199 cases have been reported Among 12 African countries. This discrepancy underscores the unreliable reporting behind the cited numbers.


Vaccine deployment is greatly slowed down from the discontinuation by primary supplier, the Serum Institute of India. The rise of local COVID cases in India forced the company to direct all vaccine contracts internally, shutting off all export activities.

Many other factors contribute to the lack of vaccine resources in the African continent. It is often the case that inadequate infrastructure and lack of centralized health authorities prohibits effective distribution.

More effort needs to be made in the distribution of vaccines to the African continent. The more COVID cases that persist, the greater the likelihood of new coronavirus variants that will affect the world population. 

Low reported COVID rates can be explained by careful analysis

As I stated in the beginning of this article, it is commonly cited that Africa has the lowest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. However, this estimation requires context, since it would be a mistake to directly compare African countries to Western and Far East countries. Every country manages viral outbreaks differently. Every country reports differently.

To begin with, poor reporting and a scarcity of testing likely depict optimistic numbers. We have no way of knowing ballpark figures of the real rate of infection and spread.

But this notwithstanding, there are social factors that could play a role in actual lower infection rates. African countries were early adopters of social distancing and masks. Perhaps this is due to a greater awareness of managing viral outbreaks that come from contending with deadly viruses such as Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. African countries were able to control and isolate the deadly Ebola virus, and thus seem better equipped for the emergence of epidemics. While reporting might be less structured than in the West, robust community healthcare might be better equipped to quickly isolate new pathogenic threats.

Many remote villages in Africa are less traveled, and residents have a much lower risk of exposure to exogenous viral pathogens. 

Higher year-round temperatures on the continent are inhospitable for the coronavirus, which seems to thrive in colder climates.

While correlation does not mean causation, it seems likely that vaccination plays at least a small part in the decrease of both infections and deaths in August and September of 2021.

In conclusion, the circumstances in Africa cannot be compared with the rest of the world. There are too many unique factors that differentiate the propagation and control of the coronavirus.