More Critical Covid Patients Die in Africa Due to Poor Resources

Critically ill Covid patients in Africa face an outsize risk of death, mainly because health systems lack key resources like hospital beds and oxygen machines, according to a study.

The death rate in the month after admission to intensive care is about 48% on the continent, compared with about 32% globally, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.

The examination of severe coronavirus sufferers in Africa “indicates that our ability to provide sufficient care is compromised by a shortage of critical-care beds and limited resources within intensive-care units,” said co-author Bruce Biccard, of South Africa’s Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town.

The findings come as the continent faces a chronic shortage of vaccines, leaving a population of more than 1.3 billion people vulnerable to new virus variants and waves of infections. While many developed nations are well advanced with their immunization rollouts, African countries have used almost two thirds of supplies yet less than 0.5% of people are fully vaccinated.

The study focused on 64 hospitals in 10 countries including Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique. About 3,140 patients were included, of which the majority were middle-aged men. Among the resources in short supply, the researchers cited renal dialysis equipment, blood-oxygen monitors and respiratory machines.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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