The W.H.O. predicts a steep fall in 2022 of Covid deaths in Africa.
"The World Health Organization expects the number of Covid-19 deaths in its Africa region to fall sharply this year, compared with 2021, the agency said on Thursday. The prediction was a hopeful one for the world’s least vaccinated continent, though it reflected a vast undercounting of past coronavirus infections and deaths in official tallies.
W.H.O. scientists reported that the agency’s statistical modeling forecast about 23,000 Covid deaths in 2022 in the 47-nation region, which includes most of the African continent. That would be a decline of more than 90 percent from the roughly 350,000 deaths the organization now estimates occurred in 2021.
“We are turning the tide on last year’s catastrophically high Covid-19 death toll in the African region,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director, said at a news conference Thursday.
One important factor contributing to the expected decline, Dr. Moeti said, was that vastly more people in Africa have had past coronavirus infections than the official case counts would indicate — and therefore, many more people have some level of immunity that could protect them from severe illness or death, if not from being infected to begin with. The issue of why official death rates in Africa are so low has been a mystery, with experts theorizing a variety of reasons could be playing a role, including the continent’s young demographics, hot weather and low population density in many areas.
Since the pandemic began, the region has reported a total of 11.9 million confirmed infections and more than 253,000 deaths from the virus, according to the W.H.O. But the W.H.O. study, published in The Lancet Global Health, found that there were probably 70 times that many cases that were never confirmed by testing."