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WHO Predicts 0.25 Billion Covid-19 Cases In Africa In 2020. Is The Prediction Credible?

Updated: May 22, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted a staggering 0.25 billion covid-19 cases and 190 000 deaths from disease in Africa in 2020. That was reported by various media on May 15, 2020. The rather dramatic prediction by the global health body comes at a time when Africa is experiencing a stable very low rate of covid-19 infection as compared to other regions in the world. As of May 14, 2020 Africa with its population of over 1 billion had a total of 75 380 confirmed covid-19 cases and 2563 deaths compared to the world's over 4.4 million confirmed covid-19 cases and over 300 000 deaths.

It is very difficult to understand the scientific premises behind WHO's prediction for covid-19 infections in Africa in 2020, that obviously envisages sudden spiking of infections in the continent in the coming days, given the disease trends in the continent in the past couple of months. It is important to note that the first covid-19 cases in Africa were reported almost the same time as those in Europe and USA. However, while confirmed cases in the latter exploded, in the former the cases have remained comparably very few and stable. So far, there is no scientific evidence based on global experiences of the new coronavirus pandemic that convincingly suggests sudden explosion of covid-19 cases after remaining at a certain level for about three months.

Within the above context, one wonders whether WHO's prediction for covid-19 infections in Africa in 2020 is credible at all. Problem with inaccurate predictions about covid-19 in any geographical region may be its consequences on national economies.

In Africa in particular, WHO's gloomy covid-19 prediction for the continent in 2020 may imply a deterrent to post-coronavirus recovery efforts through creating fear to let say tourists and investors who may believe that covid-19 in Africa is like a time bomb just waiting to explode as suggested by WHO's controversial prediction!

The WHO's prediction may also make some indecisive and insecure African countries with low rates of covid-19 infection, that after decades of been independent still rely on external sources for ideas and blueprints about how to solve their problems, to continue with lockdowns instead of forging ahead with economic development.

Our view on this matter is that with meticulous public health awareness campaigns about covid-19 including advocate of some mitigation measures like washing hands and physical distancing, as well as continued improvement and consolidation of national health systems in Africa, current low rates of covid-19 infection in many countries in the continent are likely to continue during the rest of 2020. Those countries with few covid-19 cases like Tanzania, among others, that have so far avoided adoption of very strict lockdown measures while observing less restrictive mitigation measures like those mentioned above are therefore doing the right thing! There is no doubt about that!


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