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Low COVID-19 Cases in Africa Raises Questions

April 27, 2020   /   by Dixie Downing

While the novel coronavirus has devastated Asia, Europe, and the United States, Africa’s low caseload is puzzling experts. While 1.2 billion people live in Africa, only about 24,000 cases of the virus have been reported in all 52 African countries combined.

environmental portrait of  Muhammad Salar Khan

Muhammad Salar Khan

Many experts suggest the low caseload is due to a lack of adequate testing capabilities, but Schar School of Policy and Government PhD in Public Policy candidate Muhammad Salar Khan has some other observations to bring to the table and has co-authored a study that is gaining traction in South Africa.

"Africa, which would have been vulnerable, is surprisingly least affected so far," said Khan. "This puzzle intrigued us."

Khan found that low population density, less cross border movement among citizens, low population of people over 65 years of age, and possible immunity due to existing disease treatment contribute to Africa’s low caseload. These characteristics differ from heavily affected areas in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

If the pandemic is established in Africa, “it will derail the existing health initiatives, costing billions to the world economy," he said.

Read Khan's full study.