According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study released on Thursday, more than two-thirds of Africans have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 97 times more than confirmed cases.
According to the analysis, 800 million Africans had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by September 2021, compared to 8.2 million cases documented at the time.
According to the WHO, undercounting occurs all around the world, but at a lower extent in Africa. True infections were 16 times more common than confirmed cases on average over the world, according to the report.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the agency’s regional director for Africa, said the continent’s substantial exposure to the virus and current low infection rates did not imply it should declare triumph over COVID-19.
“The dangers of more fatal variations evolving that override immunity gained from previous infections must be overlooked,” she said in a statement, urging more testing.
The research included a review of 151 prior studies on seroprevalence in Africa, or the percentage of people carrying SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood samples.
It discovered that viral exposure had skyrocketed from 3% in June 2020 to 66% in September 2021, with notable increases following the advent of the Beta and Delta versions.
According to research, 45 percent of the worldwide population will be infected by September 2021, but comparisons are difficult because studies span different time periods, according to the WHO.
Seroprevalence studies give data on asymptomatic cases that would otherwise go undiscovered in Africa, where standard diagnostic testing is focused on travellers and people who come to hospitals with symptoms.
According to the WHO, Africa has a larger proportion of asymptomatic infections than the rest of the world, with 67 percent of cases showing no symptoms.
This is partially attributable to the continent’s youthful population and partly owing to a lower number of people with risk conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
The World Health Organization and other organisations are attempting to increase vaccination rates, but are encountering challenges, partially due to a notion that immunisation is ineffective because the now-dominant Omicron form is less virulent.
According to the WHO, immunisation for people who have already been infected provides higher protection than infection-induced immunity alone.