Morgue data hint at COVID’s true toll in Africa suggesting flaws in the idea of an ‘African paradox’

Freda Kreier in Nature:

Almost one-third of more than 1,000 bodies taken to a morgue in Lusaka in 2020 and 2021 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, implying that many more people died of COVID-19 in Zambia’s capital than official numbers suggest1. Some scientists say that the findings further undermine the ‘African paradox’, a narrative that the pandemic was less severe in Africa than in other parts of the world.

This idea arose after health experts noticed that sub-Saharan nations were reporting lower case numbers and fewer COVID-19 deaths than might be expected. But researchers say that the findings from Zambia could reflect a broader truth — that a deficit of testing and strained medical infrastructure have masked COVID-19’s true toll on the continent. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed. Ignoring the true extent of COVID-19 in Lusaka and beyond “is so wrong. People were ill. They’ve had their families destroyed,” says co-author Christopher Gill, a global-health specialist at Boston University in Massachusetts. One of his colleagues in Zambia died of COVID-19 while working on the project.

More here.