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Journal Articles PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases Year : 2022

COVID-19 in Africa: Underreporting, demographic effect, chaotic dynamics, and mitigation strategy impact

Abstract

The epidemic of COVID-19 has shown different developments in Africa compared to the other continents. Three different approaches were used in this study to analyze this situation. In the first part, basic statistics were performed to estimate the contribution of the elderly people to the total numbers of cases and deaths in comparison to the other continents; Similarly, the health systems capacities were analysed to assess the level of underreporting. In the second part, differential equations were reconstructed from the epidemiological time series of cases and deaths (from the John Hopkins University ) to analyse the dynamics of COVID-19 in seventeen countries. In the third part, the time evolution of the contact number was reconstructed since the beginning of the outbreak to investigate the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies. Results were compared to the Oxford stringency index and to the mobility indices of the Google Community Mobility Reports . Compared to Europe, the analyses show that the lower proportion of elderly people in Africa enables to explain the lower total numbers of cases and deaths by a factor of 5.1 on average (from 1.9 to 7.8). It corresponds to a genuine effect. Nevertheless, COVID-19 numbers are effectively largely underestimated in Africa by a factor of 8.5 on average (from 1.7 to 20. and more) due to the weakness of the health systems at country level. Geographically, the models obtained for the dynamics of cases and deaths reveal very diversified dynamics. The dynamics is chaotic in many contexts, including a situation of bistability rarely observed in dynamical systems. Finally, the contact number directly deduced from the epidemiological observations reveals an effective role of the mitigation strategies on the short term. On the long term, control measures have contributed to maintain the epidemic at a low level although the progressive release of the stringency did not produce a clear increase of the contact number. The arrival of the omicron variant is clearly detected and characterised by a quick increase of interpeople contact, for most of the African countries considered in the analysis.
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hal-04009771 , version 1 (01-03-2023)

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Nathan Thenon, Marisa Peyre, Mireille Huc, Abdoulaye Touré, François Roger, et al.. COVID-19 in Africa: Underreporting, demographic effect, chaotic dynamics, and mitigation strategy impact. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2022, 16 (9), pp.e0010735. ⟨10.1371/journal.pntd.0010735⟩. ⟨hal-04009771⟩
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