Africa has reported an 83% surge in its weekly number of COVID-19 cases, the fastest surge it has seen over the course of the year. however, despite such a substantial spike, the number of deaths remained relatively low.
As per WHO, Africa recorded more than 196,000 new cases last week, while roughly 107,000 cases had been recorded the week before that.
Even though the number of new infections have doubled in 5 days, the shortest period observed this year, the agency reported that the number of deaths remained low as compared to the continent’s previous waves of the pandemic.
In fact it has been observed that the number of fatalities related to the coronavirus fell by 19% as compared to the previous week.
WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, stated that while the agency is being ‘cautiously optimistic’ regarding the low numbers of deaths and cases of severe illnesses, Africa's slow vaccine rollout will cause both of those numbers to remain higher than they should be.
The rise in cases comes just three weeks after the newly discovered strain of the coronavirus, called Omicron, was labeled as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO. The variant has been discovered in South Africa and has a higher number of mutations compared to the previous strains.
Moeti further stated that while the agency understands that new variants, such as Beta, Delta, and Omicron, can regularly emerge and cause new outbreaks worldwide, regions such as Africa will become especially vulnerable due to vaccine deprivation.
WHO has also added in its statement that Africa might not be able to reach the goal of having 70% of its population vaccinated against COVID-19 until at least late 2024, two years later than its initial target date.
Moeti has stated that if Africa was provided with the required number of supplies and doses to vaccinate 70% of the population inhabiting the region by 2021, a feat achieved by many wealthy nations, there would have been tens of thousands of fewer COVID-19 deaths recorded.