| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Nearly 50% of those who contracted COVID-19 in Africa are suffering from long Covid: Study

The recent analysis published in Scientific Reports revealed that nearly half of the individuals known to have contracted COVID-19 in Africa are currently experiencing the long-term effects of the virus, commonly referred to as long COVID. Conducted by a team of scientists from Italy, the research highlighted the concerning incidence rates of these persistent symptoms.
Long Covid has been defined as a condition where symptoms of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus persist for three months or more. The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Bari, Italy, and analysed the data of 29,213 people.
Following the comprehensive review of previous studies and analysis scientists also found that the estimates of incidence among low-income countries long Covid varies greatly. This has been attributed to hidden infections and the difficulty of accessing tests.

For example, among African nations, estimates range from two per cent in Ghana to a staggering 86 per cent in Egypt. The review also found that older people are more likely to experience long Covid, but did not find any significant difference between men and women at risk for the condition.

Cognitive impairment, according to the study, was the most common neurologic symptom of long Covid, while shortness of breath was the most common respiratory symptom. A quarter of those suffering from long Covid have reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The researchers noted how this particular finding was “concerning” since it adds an additional burden in mental health disorder brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and its chronic consequences have been put on a health system which is largely unprepared to deal with mental health conditions.

The team also found that a quarter of people with long Covid had a poor quality of life as a result, with fatigue and loss of appetite.

What is happening in Africa?
The high rate of estimated incidence of long Covid, particularly in African nations, has been attributed to the fact that less than 52 per cent of people are fully vaccinated, said the researchers. However, specific data on vaccination status and COVID-19 outcomes are largely unknown from the continent.

“To our knowledge, this is the first meta-analysis exploring prevalence, risk factors and symptomatology of long COVID in Africa,” the researchers wrote. The team has also urged for further research so that experts can properly assess the impact of long Covid in the African continent.

They also called on raising awareness of how prevalent this condition might be given the lack of a cure for long Covid, it may be able to help those affected.

  • Wions