Africa as a continent has less reported cases of Coronavirus that cause the respiratory illness called COVID-19. In fact, the combined reported cases and deaths of the whole continent are way below what other single countries have in total. Why is that so?
More than 50,000 deaths in the United States with Europe following closely behind. But how many deaths in Africa you ask? Only 1,300. Yes Africa is a continent and has less combined cases and deaths from novel Coronavirus than a country like Britain. But why is this so? Well, it is because of several factors:
1. Low Disposable Income.
In general, Africa is the poorest continent in the whole world. With a low disposable income, very few Africans can afford to travel the world as tourists or for business. As we all know, Coronavirus is spread via close proximity interaction in which healthy people inhale droplets from infected people and hence pass the virus into parts of their respiratory system. If you compare a country like Canada that has an average net income of US$ 36,000 and then compare to a country like Burundi that has an average net income of only US$ 212, it is prudent to deduce that a typical Canadian has more money to engage in travel for pleasure or business than a typical Burundian.
It is this ability to travel around that makes a Canadian more likely to spread Coronavirus than a Burindian. Using the available data, Canada has around 46,000 Coronavirus cases with 2,500 deaths so far while Burundi on the other hand has only 11 Coronavirus cases with zero deaths. Also, Canada as a country has more Coronavirus cases and deaths than the whole of African continent combined (38,000 cases to be specific).
2. Hot Weather
Notwithstanding disposable income, it is thought that the virus is very delicate and easily destroyed by sunlight and heat. This fact gives the African continent an advantage in the fight against Coronavirus. Not only does Africa has the largest desert in the whole world, the Sahara desert, most of the African continent has at least a warm climate. To test whether actually heat could be a reason for low cases of Coronavirus, we will look at countries that have more disposable income but still have less Coronavirus reported cases. The good candidate here is Australia. Australian outbacks are known to be hot and dry and the country does not have cold winters like its cousin, Canada.
When we compare Canada and Australia, the two countries have similar disposable incomes but the difference is that Canada has 45,000+ Coronavirus cases with 2,500 deaths while Australia has only 6,000 cases with only 83 deaths so far. From this data then we can conclude that a hot climate hinders the survival and consequently the spread of the COVID 19 and this explains why there are few cases of the deadly virus in Africa, a continent that has mostly a warm climate with several sunlight hours throughout the day.
3. African Healthy Lifestyle
The good African lifestyle can be attributed to low cases of the spread, infection and death rates of Coronavirus in Africa. How is that so? This is because of two reasons: Firstly, African feeding habits are one of the most healthy in the world. Very few Africans eat red meat (beef, pork etc) every day mainly because they cannot afford it. Red meat is known to be unhealthy due to its high contents of saturated fats.
Less consumption of fat-laden red meats means less Africans are morbid and hence less risky of dying from Coronavirus. Keep in mind that it has been proven that holding everything constant, poor diets lead to obesity that in turn leads to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In most developed countries like the United Kingdom, France and USA, you will find lots of fast food restaurants that serve very unhealthy food everywhere you go.
Secondly, most Africans get involuntary physical exercise as very few of them can afford automobiles and hence have to walk several distances to get even to the supermarkets, schools, churches, hospitals or just to visit friends and relatives. This physical exercise ensure that most Africans maintain a healthy body mass index hence avoid long-term unhealthy situations like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Statistically, it has been found that most people dying from Coronavirus had a pre-existing disease and hence the immune system was already weakened and therefore unable to fend-off a Coronavirus infection. If you look at rich countries like the United States, more than 40% of the country is morbidly obese, according to Wikipedia. To put that in perspective, 40% of 330 million is around 132 million people that are obese in the United States.
Then it goes without saying that the USA’s nearly 1 million reported Coronavirus cases with more than 55,000 deaths is exacerbated by a high number of unhealthy people as compared to let us say Kenya’s 400 Coronavirus cases with a mere 14 deaths.
4. A Younger Population
Africa is known to have the youngest population in the whole world. According to the World Economic Forum, Africa constitutes 19% of the world’s young people. Such a high percentage of youth is even expected to increase to a whopping 42% by 2030! Consider this: Africa as a continent has a combined population less than a single country like China.
The population of Africa is 1.2 billion while China has 1.3 billion people! But what does youth has to do with a freaking deadly virus such as Coronavirus? Well, it has to do with immunity. It is a fact that older people and particularly seniors have a weakened immune system caused by old age. Also, older populations are more likely to have one of the preexisting medical condition such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. Such pre-existing conditions make it difficult for the immune system to fend off a new infection by Coronavirus.
This goes to say that a high number of youth and less older citizens in Africa explains why the continent does not experience the carnage and deaths as a result of COVID 19 experienced in developed countries like USA, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
5. Population Distribution Concentrated in Upcountry.
In most African countries, population densities are more distributed in rural areas. For example most urban cities like Lagos are overcrowded but Nigeria’s largest city for example has 21 million people followed by Abuja with a mere 2.7 million people. One my ask, where is the rest of the 196 million people that makes Nigeria the most populous nation? Well, most of the remainder of the population lives in rural areas away from major cities.
Since Coronavirus originated from outside of Africa, then it means that the only way the virus will “colonize” Africa is to enter countries via urban hubs as they serve as ports of entry for international travelers. A country like Kenya has one major port of entry for international passengers: Nairobi. Hence if a sick Coronavirus passenger arrives in this city and transmits it to a native Kenyan, the infection will have to be carried into upcountry by the infected person. Compare Kenya or Nigeria to a country like USA that has more than 50 International ports of entry! It even makes the situation worse because in the USA, unlike in Africa, most populations are concentrated in major urban centres.
Talk about mammoth New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle, etc. This makes a country like Kenya easy to stump out any reported cases of Coronavirus in Nairobi and let us say Mombasa compared to USA’s need to employ a multi-pronged approach to deal with multiple outbreaks in several crowded cities at once in their country.
6. Insufficient Testing
There has been insufficient Coronavirus testing in Africa in general. Whereas a country like the United States has tested more than 5 million people for the deadly Coronavirus, the whole continent of Africa has conducted fewer than half a million all combined. Testing is very crucial not only for the containment of the spread of the virus but also for the prognosis of the confirmed patient who have the disease.
This is because the sooner a patient knows their status, the sooner they can be isolated, quarantined and even administered proper treatment in order to prevent a possible lose of life. As more people gets tested, the number of Corona virus reported in Africa will increase dramatically since it has been proven that there are several incidences of asymptomatic Corona virus carriers roaming the streets and unsuspectingly infecting their neighbors, friends and relatives.