Close to 800 million people in Africa may have had COVID-19, the World Health Organization said this week.
Details: The WHO said that about 1 in 100 COVID-19 cases may have been detected in the country so far and that two-thirds of people in Africa may have been infected, per Bloomberg.
- Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated continent, which means the population is still at risk for infection, according to Bloomberg.
- It’s possible COVID-19 cases have been underreported in Africa since there are fewer COVID-19 tests within the continent.
The bigger picture: Africa’s low rate of deaths related to COVID-19 has baffled experts, who wondered why a continent with such high cases is seeing such low death rates, according to The New York Times.
- Some experts think it’s all related to the lack of testing and that COVID-19 cases are going underreported.
Yes, but: Dr. Andy Pekosz, a COVID-19 expert at Johns Hopkins University, told Fortune that lack of testing isn’t the answer.
- He told Fortune there is “certainly good enough monitoring of infectious diseases to have detected severe cases and deaths resulting from COVID-19.”
- There’s also a theory that Africans might have resilience due to “cross-reactive antibodies” from Ebola and Lassa fever.
- Pekosz said there isn’t convincing evidence of that, though.
The bottom line: Experts are still trying to figure out why Africa has seen such low COVID-19 death rates despite high case numbers.
- Answering that question is “relevant not just to us” but it could “have implications for the greater public good,” Austin Demby, Sierra Leone’s health minister, told The New York Times.