Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic A review of the nature of the virus, impacts and implications for preparedness

Background: COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in different countries across the world, claiming thousands of lives, increasing morbidity and disrupting lifestyles. The global scientific community is in urgent need of relevant evidence, to understand the challenges and knowledge gaps, as well as the opportunities to contain the spread of the virus. Considering the unique socio-economic, demographic, political, ecological and climatic contexts in Africa, the responses which may prove to be successful in other regions may not be appropriate on the continent. This paper aims to provide insight for scientists, policy makers and international agencies to contain the virus and to mitigate its impact at all levels. Methods: The Affiliates of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), came together to synthesize the current evidence, identify the challenges and opportunities to enhance the understanding of the disease. We assess the potential impact of this pandemic and the unique challenges of the disease on African nations. We examine the state of Africa’s preparedness and make recommendations for steps needed to win the war against this pandemic and combat potential resurgence Results: We identified gaps and opportunities among cross-cutting issues which is recommended to be addressed or harnessed in this pandemic. Factors such as the nature of the virus and the opportunities for drug targeting, point of care diagnostics, health surveillance systems, food security, mental health, xenophobia and gender-based violence, shelter for the homeless, water and sanitation, telecommunications challenges, domestic regional coordination and financing Conclusion: Based on our synthesis of the current evidence, while there are plans for preparedness in several African countries, there are significant limitations. Multi-sectoral efforts from the science, education, medical, technological, communication, business and industry sectors as well as local communities is required in order to win this fight.
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Africa Wide
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