Covid in Africa and Latin America

Published: August 27, 2020

Contrary to expectations, Africa has so far seen a very low Covid death rate (about 0.01%), with the partial exception of South Africa. While there certainly is substantial underreporting of infections and deaths in Africa, there have been no reports of any overrun health facilities.

The WHO this week announced that Africa could already be “past the peak of the pandemic” as new infections appear to be slowing down, though this seems to be a somewhat optimistic assessment, as infection rates in rural areas could still be increasing.

Reasons for the low Covid death rate in Africa may include the very young demographics, low prevalence of risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, and possibly the already widespread use of HCQ in malaria prophylaxis. French-Moroccan professor Jaouad Zemmouri argues that Europe could have avoided 78% of its Covid deaths by applying Africa’s HCQ policy.

Latin America, on the other hand, is among the hardest hit regions in the world, with Peru, Chile, Brazil and Mexico already in the tragic top ten and others like Argentina still accelerating. Many Latin American countries have had very strict lockdowns and mask laws that still failed to contain the pandemic, and may have caused additional casualties among the population.

In contrast, the Brazilian city of Manaus (the capital of the state of Amazonas) didn’t enforce a lockdown and mask mandate. Nevertheless, as in most other global Covid hotspots, new infections dropped after about two months and an antibody prevalence of about 20%. By August, Manaus with 2.2 million inhabitants counted 3300 excess deaths, indicating a raw IFR of about 0.75% and a real IFR (including mucosal and cellular immunity) of about 0.4%.

Statistics using “day of report” data suggest that covid deaths in Brazil are not decreasing, but this is not true: Brazil reached its covid peak already in May, with a smaller second peak in July (in different states), and mortality was approaching normal levels by the end of August.

All-cause mortality in Brazil (mortalidade.com.br)

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