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21 Jan, 2021 14:20

Africa's Covid-19 fatality rate now higher than global average, says continent's disease control chief

Africa's Covid-19 fatality rate now higher than global average, says continent's disease control chief

The head of Africa's disease control agency has warned that the continent's fatality rate from Covid-19 has risen above the global average, adding that this is a very "worrying" development.

Africa's Covid-19 case fatality rate has risen to 2.5 percent, while the global average is 2.2 percent, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head John Nkengasong told reporters on Thursday.

"The case fatality rate is beginning to be very worrying and concerning for all of us," he said, but did not elaborate on the factors involved.

Nkengasong said that there are now more than 21 countries on the continent with a case fatality rate above three percent, including Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.

Last year, some disease experts suggested Africa had a lower fatality rate than other parts of the world due to a more youthful population, while others cautioned that lower testing rates could be masking the bigger picture of the Covid-19 outbreak across the continent. 

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The reported data to date suggests the continent has been less afflicted by Covid-19 than other parts of the world. As of Thursday, Africa has recorded 3.3 million coronavirus infections and 81,000 deaths, the CDC said.

Of the 207,000 new cases registered on the continent in the past week, 100,000 of them had been recorded in South Africa alone, Nkengasong added.

South Africa has been by far the worst-affected country on the continent from Covid – one reason being the recent emergence of a more transmittable variant of the virus.

The CDC has repeatedly warned that African countries are not receiving much-needed access to vaccines. On Monday, World Health Organization chair Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated this complaint, noting that "the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" over unequal access to coronavirus inoculations and the "prospects for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines are at serious risk." 

Many countries in Africa are unlikely to receive vaccine doses until much later in 2021 or 2022, with only Egypt and the Seychelles starting to roll out the vaccine so far. 

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