Africa and the Coronavirus

Before it changed the title of one of its puzzled think pieces about the coronavirus’s inability to kill Africans in numbers predicted by doomsayers, the BBC speculated whether poverty could explain the mystery of Africa’s low death rate. 

When I read the headline, and the article that followed it, I imagined the author (Andrew Harding), throwing his hands up in exasperation as he dispatched the report to his editor. Something tells me he has been waiting too long to send home dark articles about Africans dying by the thousands, complete with pictures of mass burials and little orphans with dirty tear-streaked cheeks. 

That the predictions did not materialize (as they did in the West African Ebola outbreak) means entire narratives have been turned on their heads. But because the narrative of utter destitution is so deeply ingrained in the Western media’s conceptual framework for reporting on the continent, it is hard for reporters to explain how Africa has been escaping the latest pandemic relatively unscathed using any other terms. 

The BBC changed its headline after many Africans raised an uproar online, contending that it was patronizing and condescending. In its notice about the change, the BBC declared that it did not mean to “cause offence”. And while the call of civility bids me respect the apology, I do not think that not meaning to offend is a valid defence. No media worthy of the name should fear causing offence. Your job, dear BBC, is not to avoid offending — it is to tell the truth. 

And the truth is that no one knows why Africa is escaping the pandemic so lightly while the rest of the world struggles. And poverty probably has nothing to do with it, for the simple reason that across the world, in the hardest hit parts of the rich world, it is the poor who fill the ranks of the infected and deceased. And, even if we ignore the rich world, other relatively poor regions, like India, haven’t had nearly as good a run as Africa.

So why is Africa winning the coronavirus battle? by Mathew Otieno

The more Africa fears God, and works to expand His Kingdom — from loving their neighbour, to fighting corruption, to changing things for the better on the ground, to peaceful trade and honest business practice — to that extent, they will have a future worth talking about.

To build a great future, you start today.

As for the Rich Nations…

From The Bank of America and Deutsche Bank:

Zero Hedge, One Bank Expects COVID Herd Immunity To Emerge By 2022

—<Quote begins>—

Last week, Bank of America made a rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation that roughly 12% of the US population had achieved COVID herd immunity, far below the 60% threshold that is necessary for the disease to be contained without fresh policy actions, prompting BofA to propose a vision for a world in which we get periodic covid flareups in the coming months, many of which could culminate in fresh lockdowns.

Taking the initial thoughts from BofA, this morning Deutsche Bank published an extensive report analyzing what “Living with Covid” for the foreseeable future would be like (with an emphasis on Asian countries) since – like BofA – the German bank does not see herd immunity emerging as a factor until 2022 for advanced economies, and 2023 for the rest of the world, to wit:

Although developments on the vaccine front have been promising, there is uncertainty over the uptake of vaccines by the public and thereby the pace of achieving herd immunity, which would better ensure a more full normalization of economic activity. Our baseline forecast now assumes that some economies will achieve herd immunity to Covid-19 in 2022, along with most advanced  economies. Other countries are likely to have to wait until 2023 to achieve the same. Risks around these forecasts are evenly balanced.


Finally, reliance on a vaccine as some magic bullet that will magically cure the global economy appears largely misplaced, because as Deutsche notes, “although developments on the vaccine front have been promising, there are concerns about a possible low acceptance by the public of these new vaccines by the public. It may also matter importantly which vaccines are put into commercial production first – they vary significantly in cost and emerging economies could be at a disadvantage in acquiring enough vaccine.”

The bottom line, according to the report’s authors is that until herd immunity has been achieved – some time in 2022/2023, “economies will remain hostage to the virus – shrinking with each new outbreak and expanding quickly as social distancing eases with the subsequent decline in infection risks.”

—<Quote ends>—

After everything is tallied up, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the coronavirus of 2020 kills and impoverishes more people than the Spanish Flu of 1918.

Not because of the disease – where the very worst-case estimated death toll is about a million deaths (late Sept 2020) for Covid-19, vs 17 to 50 million for the Spanish Flu.

(Note the big range of estimates for the Spanish Flu… and a sharply lower world population at the time.)

No. I am reasonably confident that the coronavirus will kill more people, and starve/ impoverish more lives, than the Spanish Flu because of the lockdowns.

I am glad that Africa got out of this mess, by and large.

(Europe and America could got off lightly as well, without the China-sparked, Imperial College-fuelled panic.)

1 thought on “Africa and the Coronavirus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.