The end of the pandemic?African countries may soon reach the “next stage” of becoming endemic

2022-07-29 0 By

Kondwani Jambu was stunned when the results came out.Last year, the immunologist from the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme in Malawi, Africa, launched a study to determine exactly how many people in the country have been infected with novel Coronavirus since the start of the global pandemic.Mr. Jambu said he knew the total number of cases would be higher than the official figure, but the results were still unexpected.His research showed that the scale of the spread was greater than expected, with the vast majority of Malawians infected before the Omicron variant emerged.”I was shocked,” he said.More importantly, jambu said, the findings show that Malawi has entered a kind of “holy grail” phase in recent months.At this stage, according to the many European and Us countries still in the grip of the Omicron wave, the coronavirus pandemic will become an endemic, novel coronavirus a more predictable seasonal virus, like the flu or the common cold.In fact, many of Africa’s leading scientists say that population studies and the experience of African countries with the Omicron variant prove that Malawi is just one of many countries on the continent that seem to have reached the “next stage”, foreign media reported Tuesday.In these countries, the threat level of COVID-19, while not yet fully endemic, has been greatly reduced.To understand how these scientists arrived at this idea, you need to first understand the situation of COVID-19 pandemics in countries like Malawi.Before the Omicron wave, Malawi did not seem to have been hit hard by COVID-19.Mr. Jambu said Malawi had experienced several waves of COVID-19 before July last year, but only a small percentage of Malawians appeared to be infected, “probably less than 10 percent of the population, based on the number of individuals who tested positive.”And even during the peak of Malawi’s successive waves of COVID-19, hospital admissions were relatively low.Jambu believes this is likely to mask the true situation in Malawi.And one of the reasons is because the population is so young, the average age is around 18.This suggests, he explains, that before Omicron’s arrival, most infections in the country were probably asymptomatic and unlikely to show up in official statistics.The symptoms are not severe enough for people to go to a hospital, and novel Coronavirus tests are in short supply in the country, so they are usually used only for people with severe symptoms or who need to be tested for travel.Less than 5 percent of Malawians are fully vaccinated, but severe illness and mortality rates are extremely low. So to fill in the information gap and get the picture right, Jambu and his collaborators turned to another potential source of information — the National blood sample Bank.After testing blood samples for Novel Coronavirus antibodies, they found that up to 80 per cent of the population in Malawi had been infected with the novel Coronavirus last summer, when the third wave of the Delta outbreak began.”There’s no way we could have guessed how widespread this virus has become,” Jambu said.Similar studies have been conducted in other African countries, including Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa, Jambu said.The results were almost the same everywhere, and the infection rate was already very high before the Omicron variant emerged.Not only that, But Jambu believes the Blood samples from The Malawians also explain a key feature of the recent omikron outbreak, which has killed far fewer people than previous waves, which had already seen a low death toll.Less than 5% of Malawians are reported to have been fully vaccinated.So Their “apparent resistance” to severe illness is likely the result of previous exposure to an earlier mutant strain, Jambu notes.”Now we have Beta, Delta and novel coronavirus.In severe cases, the combination of these three strains seems to neutralize the Omicron variant.”He said.The coronavirus wave caused by the Omikron strain has now reached its peak in Africa, reports say.One African country after another seems to be experiencing the same pattern: a big rise in infections, but no corresponding rise in hospitalizations and deaths.”I think we should take comfort from the fact that this is the least severe tsunami in South Africa,” said Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.He said the most likely reason was that, like Malawi, south Africans had acquired immunity from previous infections.But one difference is that hospitals in South Africa were overwhelmed during last summer’s Delta epidemic, compared with Malawi, which has a predominantly young population.But whether Africa is really in “a less dangerous situation” now depends on a “key question,” according to Emory University biologist Rastom Antia: How long can the immunity that protects people from getting sick last?Since the outbreak, Antia has been working on what it takes for the Novel Coronavirus to become a local epidemic.▲ Madhi believes future vaccination efforts in South Africa should target vulnerable groups more closely. Madhi says there is “reason to be optimistic” as previous studies have shown that protection lasts for at least a year.As a result, he believes it may be clear to African countries, and many other low – and middle-income countries that have experienced similar outbreaks, that “we have reached a turning point in this pandemic.”So what happens when COVID-19 becomes a local epidemic?First, Madhesi said vaccination efforts in South Africa should be more rigorously targeted at vulnerable groups. “We need to ensure that at least 90 percent of people over 50 are vaccinated,” he said.And when the next variant appears, don’t immediately start panicking just because the number of infections rises, because that rise is inevitable.Instead, officials should keep an eye on the “less likely” scenario of a rise in severe illness and deaths.Red Star news reporter Xu Huan editor Guo Yu (download red star news, newsfeed awards!)