The COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa: Predictions using the SIR Model

Author(s): Musalula Sinkala, Panji Nkhoma, Mildred Zulu, Doris Kafita, Rabecca Tembo, Victor Daka

Since the earliest reports of the Coronavirus disease - 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the disease has rapidly spread worldwide, attaining pandemic levels in early March 2020. However, the spread of COVID-19 has differed in the African setting compared to countries on other continents. To predict the spread of COVID-19 in Africa and within each country on the continent, we applied a Susceptible-Infectious-Recovered mathematical model. Here, our results show that, overall, Africa is currently (May 29, 2020) at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, after which we predict the number of cases would begin to fall in June 2020. Furthermore, we predict that the ending phase of the pandemic would be in Mid-August 2020 and that decreasing cases of COVID-19 infections would be detected until around December 2020 and January 2021. Our results also reveal that of the 51 countries with reported COVID-19 cases, only nine, including South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia, are likely to report higher monthly COVID-19 cases in June 2020 than those reported in the previous months. Overall, at the end of this pandemic, we predict that approximately 279,000 (about 154,000 future cases) individuals in Africa would have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Here, our predictions are data-driven and based on the previously observed trends in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shifts in the population dynamics and/or changes in the infectiousness of the COVID-19 virus may require new forecasts of the disease spread.

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