Data map: Tracking COVID-19 waves in Africa

AHMED KALEBI, Independent Consultant Pathologist & Hon. Lecturer, Department of Human Pathology, University of Nairobi

SINCE the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of positive cases across the world as well as in individual countries has come in a series of rises, peaks and falls. Essentially, the overall pattern has been a series of waves.

Within the first two years since the outbreak, most countries had experienced three waves, marked by a huge second or third wave. Some countries recorded four regular waves, of varying peaks, and a few had a lingering second wave.

Waves happen because the COVID-19 virus remains active in people who are infected for a maximum of two weeks. After this time, the person is no longer infectious and will have developed some immunity.

New variants can cause this pattern to change. Some could be more transmissible and able to evade immunity. This would cause infection rates to rise. One example of this was the Delta variant.

Currently, vaccination in Africa is very low and thus most African countries are heavily exposed to resurgent waves, especially if new variants and sub-variants come up.

Tracking the pandemic’s waves enables authorities and policymakers to take swift action, keeping new waves at bay or curbing rising ones. Actions taken could include lockdowns, public health interventions, messaging to the public and border enforcement.

This map, produced by the Africa Data Hub, is a very useful tool for anyone interested in tracking the evolution and progress of COVID-19 across the continent, and in individual countries. Among other data, it shows changes in new caseloads and positivity rates based on within a time frame. It could help to prompt urgent intervention, preventing numbers from escalating.



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