Lymphatic filariasis

Africa has marked the end of its fourth Covid-19 pandemic wave with a decline in number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.

Development Diaries gathered that the Omicron-propelled fourth wave proved to be the shortest upsurge yet and lasted for 56 days.

The new Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on 24 November, 2021. The WHO later declared it as a variant of concern.

The WHO said newly reported cases fell by 20 percent in the week to 16 January, 2022. With deaths dropping by eight percent, the surge in deaths will likely be the shortest reported so far, according to the global health body.

South Africa – where Omicron was first sequenced, and which has accounted for the bulk of cases and deaths – recorded a downward trend over the past four weeks.

Cases fell across the rest of Africa except in North Africa where reported cases spiked by 55 percent over the past week, WHO added.

The Omicron-fuelled pandemic wave has resulted in the lowest cumulative average case fatality ratio, standing at 0.68 percent compared with the three previous waves during which the case fatality ratio was above 2.4 percent.

Africa’s current case fatality ratio remains the highest in the world, although it has been lowered in the last two waves.

‘While the acceleration, peak and decline of this wave have been unmatched, its impact has been moderate, and Africa is emerging with fewer deaths and lower hospitalisations. But the continent has yet to turn the tables on this pandemic’, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said.

‘So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are inevitable. Africa must not only broaden vaccinations, but also gain increased and equitable access to critical [Covid-19] therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic’.

The WHO said although the availability of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for Covid-19 patients have increased from 0.8 per 100,000 population to 2.0 per 100,000 – the numbers are still far from sufficient to meet the demands of the pandemic.

The health body recommended two new therapeutics for the treatment of Covid-19: a rheumatoid arthritis drug called baricitinib, and a monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab – raising the number of WHO approved Covid-19 therapeutics to 11.

Cape Verde and Uganda have already received vials of Tocilizumab through the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator partnership. Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania are due to receive a consignment soon.

The rate of vaccination in Africa remains low, with just ten percent of the continent’s population fully vaccinated. Africa has so far received about 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and administered 327 million.

The African Union (AU) had accused vaccine manufacturers of denying African countries a fair chance to buy vaccines, and urged manufacturing countries to lift export restrictions on them and their components.

Campaigners had also called for the immediate approval of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver, to ensure greater access to Covid-19 vaccine tests and treatments in low income countries (LICs).

Source: WHO

Photo source: WHO

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