800 million, not 8.2mn: Africa's Covid toll 97 times higher than reported, says WHO

WION Web Team
Johannesburg, South Africa Updated: Apr 09, 2022, 07:00 AM(IST)

Just 11.5 million Covid cases and 252,000 deaths have been detected in laboratory tests across Africa. However, according to the WHO Africa region, the officially confirmed statistics are 'likely only scratching the surface of the real extent of coronavirus infections in Africa'. Photograph:( AFP )

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According to the latest data provided by the South African Medical Research Council, the number of deaths could be three times higher than previously recorded

A World Health Organization report released on Thursday claims that the African COVID-19 infection numbers might be 97 times higher than what was reported.

It claims that more than two-thirds of Africans may have contracted COVID-19 in the last two years and that by September last year, approximately 800 million individuals could have been infected.

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Just 11.5 million Covid cases and 252,000 deaths have been detected in laboratory tests across Africa. However, according to the WHO Africa region, the officially confirmed statistics are "likely only scratching the surface of the real extent of coronavirus infections in Africa".

"A new meta-analysis of standardised sero-prevalence study revealed that the true number of infections could be as much as 97 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa's regional director.

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The research looked at over 150 studies that were published between January 2020 and December of the previous year. It found that virus exposure increased from 3 per cent in June 2020 to 66 per cent in September of the same year.

"In real terms, this means that in September 2021, rather than the reported 8.2 million cases, there were 800 million," said Moeti.

"The focus was very much on testing people who were symptomatic when there were challenges in having access to testing supplies" Moeti told the media, and this resulted in "under-representing the genuine number of persons who have been exposed and are infected by the virus."

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Even the global average of true infection counts is thought to be 16 times greater than the number of confirmed reported cases.

According to the latest data provided by the South African Medical Research Council, the number of deaths could be three times higher than previously recorded.

Between May 3, 2020, and last Saturday, South Africa recorded 303,969 excess deaths from natural causes, but the official numbers suggest that Covid has killed 100,075 individuals since the outbreak began.

(With inputs from agencies)

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