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Front Public Health ; 9: 654299, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1348570


There are many outstanding questions about how to control the global COVID-19 pandemic. The information void has been especially stark in the World Health Organization Africa Region, which has low per capita reported cases, low testing rates, low access to therapeutic drugs, and has the longest wait for vaccines. As with all disease, the central challenge in responding to COVID-19 is that it requires integrating complex health systems that incorporate prevention, testing, front line health care, and reliable data to inform policies and their implementation within a relevant timeframe. It requires that the population can rely on the health system, and decision-makers can rely on the data. To understand the process and challenges of such an integrated response in an under-resourced rural African setting, we present the COVID-19 strategy in Ifanadiana District, where a partnership between Malagasy Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and non-governmental organizations integrates prevention, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment, in the context of a model health system. These efforts touch every level of the health system in the district-community, primary care centers, hospital-including the establishment of the only RT-PCR lab for SARS-CoV-2 testing outside of the capital. Starting in March of 2021, a second wave of COVID-19 occurred in Madagascar, but there remain fewer cases in Ifanadiana than for many other diseases (e.g., malaria). At the Ifanadiana District Hospital, there have been two deaths that are officially attributed to COVID-19. Here, we describe the main components and challenges of this integrated response, the broad epidemiological contours of the epidemic, and how complex data sources can be developed to address many questions of COVID-19 science. Because of data limitations, it still remains unclear how this epidemic will affect rural areas of Madagascar and other developing countries where health system utilization is relatively low and there is limited capacity to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients. Widespread population based seroprevalence studies are being implemented in Ifanadiana to inform the COVID-19 response strategy as health systems must simultaneously manage perennial and endemic disease threats.

COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Madagascar/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Seroepidemiologic Studies
Nat Med ; 27(3): 447-453, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1319034


A surprising feature of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to date is the low burdens reported in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries relative to other global regions. Potential explanations (for example, warmer environments1, younger populations2-4) have yet to be framed within a comprehensive analysis. We synthesized factors hypothesized to drive the pace and burden of this pandemic in SSA during the period from 25 February to 20 December 2020, encompassing demographic, comorbidity, climatic, healthcare capacity, intervention efforts and human mobility dimensions. Large diversity in the probable drivers indicates a need for caution in interpreting analyses that aggregate data across low- and middle-income settings. Our simulation shows that climatic variation between SSA population centers has little effect on early outbreak trajectories; however, heterogeneity in connectivity, although rarely considered, is likely an important contributor to variance in the pace of viral spread across SSA. Our synthesis points to the potential benefits of context-specific adaptation of surveillance systems during the ongoing pandemic. In particular, characterizing patterns of severity over age will be a priority in settings with high comorbidity burdens and poor access to care. Understanding the spatial extent of outbreaks warrants emphasis in settings where low connectivity could drive prolonged, asynchronous outbreaks resulting in extended stress to health systems.

COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Africa South of the Sahara/epidemiology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19 Serological Testing/statistics & numerical data , Comorbidity , Disease Outbreaks , Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic , Female , History, 21st Century , Humans , Infection Control , Male , Middle Aged , Mortality , Pandemics , Prognosis , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Severity of Illness Index
Glob Health Action ; 13(1): 1816044, 2020 12 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-814069


COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally with particular concerns for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where models suggest that the majority of the population will become infected. Conventional wisdom suggests that the continent will bear a higher burden of COVID-19 for the same reasons it suffers from other infectious diseases: ecology, socio-economic conditions, lack of water and sanitation infrastructure, and weak health systems. However, so far SSA has reported lower incidence and fatalities compared to the predictions of standard models and the experience of other regions of the world. There are three leading explanations, each with different implications for the final epidemic burden: (1) low case detection, (2) differences in epidemiology (e.g. low R 0 ), and (3) policy interventions. The low number of cases have led some SSA governments to relaxing these policy interventions. Will this result in a resurgence of cases? To understand how to interpret the lower-than-expected COVID-19 case data in Madagascar, we use a simple age-structured model to explore each of these explanations and predict the epidemic impact associated with them. We show that the incidence of COVID-19 cases as of July 2020 can be explained by any combination of the late introduction of first imported cases, early implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and low case detection rates. We then re-evaluate these findings in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic in Madagascar through August 2020. This analysis reinforces that Madagascar, along with other countries in SSA, remains at risk of a growing health crisis. If NPIs remain enforced, up to 50,000 lives may be saved. Even with NPIs, without vaccines and new therapies, COVID-19 could infect up to 30% of the population, making it the largest public health threat in Madagascar for the coming year, hence the importance of clinical trials and continually improving access to healthcare.

Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Models, Theoretical , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Africa South of the Sahara/epidemiology , COVID-19 , Humans , Incidence , Madagascar/epidemiology , Pandemics