New data indicates COVID-19 infections highly underreported in Burkina Faso and other West African countries

Discover the shocking reality of underreported COVID-19 infections in West African countries like Burkina Faso. New data reveals the extent of the problem, with blood tests indicating a much higher number of previous infections than officially recorded. Learn how this discrepancy affects the understanding of the virus's impact and why vaccination hesitancy is a major concern in the region. Explore the factors contributing to the underreporting and the potential impact on tourism.

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Covid-19 has been underreported in West Africa, based on blood tests that determine how many people have been previously infected.


Sero-positivity statistics given at a web seminar conducted by the University of Ghana's West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens on Wednesday show that nearly 80% of people surveyed in Ghana in the first five months of 2022 had previously contracted Covid-19. In Nigeria, the figure was about 50%, and in Burkina Faso, it was slightly higher.

More than 21 million people live in Burkina Faso, but only 21,000 illnesses and 384 deaths have been officially recorded there.

Although Africa has reported 11.7 million coronavirus illnesses as well as less than 254,000 deaths, WHO estimates imply that over 350,000 people may well have died from COVID-19 in 2021 alone.


According to the World Health Organization, vaccination hesitancy has been exacerbated by the fact that the continent has the highest infectious disease burden of any continent. It's possible that Covid-19 was the eighth leading cause of mortality in Africa the year before, barely ahead of malaria, according to statistics from WHO modeling.

Between January and May of this year, the prevalence of the Omicron variant doubled in Nigeria, with the highest rates found in Lagos and Kano, the country's two largest cities, according to the data. Burkina Faso, which experienced a much smaller outbreak, did not follow the same pattern.

Covid-19 may have less of an impact on countries in Africa plagued by instability, which is consistent with the idea that there aren't as many international tourists visiting those countries. Islamist militant attacks have ravaged Burkina Faso, while kidnappings, jihadist activity, and criminality are rampant in northern Nigeria, discouraging tourists from visiting. Ghana is a relatively safe country.

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