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Why COVID-19 is less potent in Sub-Saharan Africa, by experts

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PHOTO: AFP

779,000 persons may die from malaria on continent
Scientists have advanced yet another reason why the dreaded COVID-19 is spreading slowly with very low mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In a study w published in the journal, Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, they situated a nexus between lower humidity – which is predominant in Europe and Americas – and increase in community transmission of the disease

Another survey by the team, which focused on the Greater Sydney area in Australia during the early epidemic stage, confirmed the risk.

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Humidity is the concentration of water vapour in the air invisible to the human eye.

The dampness indicates the likelihood for precipitation, dew or fog.

Previous investigations had shown that higher moisture reduces infectivity of aerosolised influenza virus and coronavirus.

Until now, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, have very high humidity compared to their northern and southern counterparts in addition to the western world like Australia.

The research, led by Prof. Michael Ward, an epidemiologist in the School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Australia alongside two researchers from a partner institution, Fudan University School of Public Health in Shanghai, China, is the second peer-reviewed study of a relationship between weather conditions and COVID-19 in Australia.

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Besides, another finding revealed that airborne transmission of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 via aerosol particles in indoor environment seems to be strongly influenced by relative humidity.

The assertion was the conclusion of investigators from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Leipzig, Germany and the CSIR National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, India. Moreover, researchers at the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) in Abuja and Imperial College London (ICL) have, in their study published in Nature Medicine, predicted that 779,000 could die from malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa this year – more than double the number for 2019.

According to the report, investigators at the World Health Organisation (WHO) reached a similar estimate. They modelled the impact of COVID-19 on malaria in 41 countries under nine scenarios.

The worst case – a continuing suspension of campaigns to distribute insecticide-treated bednets, and a 75 per cent drop in access to antimalarial drugs – would lead to 779,000 deaths in the region, a mortality level not seen in 20 years.

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