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COVID-19 and socioeconomic development in Africa: The first 6 months (February 2020-August 2020)

M. Michel Garenne

Article ID: 1222
Vol 6, Issue 2, 2020, Article identifier:1-14

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The study covers the first 6 months of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemics in 56 African countries (February 2020-August 2020). It links epidemiological parameters (incidence, case fatality) with demographic parameters (population density, urbanization, population concentration, fertility, mortality, and age structure), with economic parameters (gross domestic product [GDP] per capita, air transport), and with public health parameters (medical density). Epidemiological data are cases and deaths reported to the World Health Organization, and other variables come from databases of the United Nations agencies. Results show that COVID-19 spread fairly rapidly in Africa, although slower than in the rest of the world: In 3 months, all countries were affected, and in 6 months, approximately 1.1 million people (0.1% of the population) were diagnosed positive for COVID-19. The dynamics of the epidemic were fairly regular between April and July, with a net reproduction rate R0 = 1.35, but tended to slow down afterward, when R0 fell below 1.0 at the end of July. Differences in incidence were very large between countries and were correlated primarily with population density and urbanization, and to a lesser extent, with GDP per capita and population age structure. Differences in case fatality were smaller and correlated primarily with mortality level. Overall, Africa appeared very heterogeneous, with some countries severely affected while others very little.


COVID-19; Demographic transition; Health transition; Economic development; Africa

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