The weighty impact of the coronavirus on the global society is one that cannot be refuted or understated. This impact ranges from the terrible toll that it has exacted on local, national and international health systems to its economic impact on financial markets, its coercive demand for the restructuring of labor, educational, and social interaction for all people among other effects. Clearly, covid-19 is truly a historical event in the most meaningful sense of the word. Of course, the fact that all have been affected by this extraordinary event does not mean that everyone was affected in the same way or to the same degree.
The Mortality of Covid-19
Undoubtedly, the most severe cost that the coronavirus imposed on society has come in the form of the loss of human life. As of today, nearly 625 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 7 million people having lost their lives to the illness. As was mentioned before, not all have been affected to the same degree. This article shortly explores the differences between coronavirus deaths across the continent of Africa compared to the deaths in the United states.
Relative to the Covid-19 death toll of many European and North American countries, particularly the U.S, Africa has seemed to have experienced substantially fewer deaths from the illness. Even with high positive cases of covid-19, the death toll has been comparatively much lower according to most studies on the subject for the past two years or so. Some of the prominent explanations for this phenomenon have to do with differences in Age, geography/climate, governmental responses speeds, and immune responses based on built up immunities to other diseases endemic to the continent of Africa relative to other parts of the world.
Age and immune system response are crucial
The idea that individuals of different age groups have varying susceptibility to experiencing serious symptoms or even death upon contracting covid is well established. It is also well known that the continent of Africa has a population whose average is younger than any other continent or region of the world. For this reason, even with Africans contracting Covid-19 at the same rate as others, having a younger population makes the risk of dying from Covid much lower than other western nations such as the U.S. On top of that, The prevalence of other illnesses common on the continent such as malaria, TB, and other respiratory infections relative to other parts of the world are thought to have created a situation in which the immune systems of many Africans were more trained and prepared to adequately respond to and fight off the covid virus.
Swift governmental action and public support and adherence play a role
The politicization of coronavirus response in the U.S unquestionably played a significant role on the infection and death rate and how they would proliferate, particularly in the first year. Influenced by our nation’s form of government and debates over state vs federal power, the lack of swift and unified action in the form of enforced nation-wide shutdowns and strict restrictions created an environment where the virus was able to spread quickly and widely within and across state borders. In contrast, Many african governments were able to impose strict travel restrictions and mandatory lockdowns very early on. For example even prior to Covid-19 becoming an existential public health emergency in the Democratic republic of Congo, a severe Ebola outbreak was occurring. The severity of Ebola forced the government to implement various strict travel and quarantine measures which citizens overwhelmingly supported. Afterall, Ebola was clearly no joke. Neighboring African governments, in an attempt to combat Ebola in their own countries, also enacted strong public health measures. Covid-19 then began to take the world by storm and with the pre-existing measures combating Ebola already either in place or sufficiently developed in many african countries, Covid-19 measures were able to build from there. With the knowledge of the gravity of Ebola fresh in their minds, many africans were more willing to adhere to the strict measures that would be needed to fight Covid-19. This of course would translate to a slower rate of the spread of the illness.
Some push back
While much of the research from the past two years supports this idea that Africa has fared much better in terms of the loss of human life due to covid-19 relative to much of the rest of the world, there have been some valid questions raised by critics. One such push back to the idea has been that the reported deaths of Africans due to covid-19 is much smaller than the actual number. Due to the fact that most African countries are under-resourced relative to their western counterparts, their governments abilities to accurately document the Covid-19 cases and deaths of their citizens are diminished greatly. This could be an explanation for why even if their death rates are similar to say the United States, the officially reported mortality rate would be greatly undercounted in Africa. Seeing as we are still living in the times of covid-19, the debate is far from over. We must use the best information available until better and more convincing explanations present themselves to us over time.
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Covid-19 data explorer. Our World in Data. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer
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