While some of this low reporting could be attributed to poor testing, Africa as a continent appears to have handled the pandemic more effectively than the US has.
Countries that have managed to contain Covid-19 have attained greater normalcy in their lives, while the everyday activities of ordinary Americans remain constrained, their lives lessened and threatened.
This great reversal of fortune is stunning when one accounts for the immense differences in wealth in these two locations.
Scientists are puzzling over the underlying factors driving Africa’s success — is it the relatively young population, lower connectivity to disease epicenters, cross-reactive immunities, or differences in lifestyle?
While many factors contribute to differences in Covid-19 outcomes, there are striking differences in the quality of leadership, disaster preparedness, conformity to scientific advice, and coherence in pandemic response strategies that appear to have played important roles.
Inspiring civic duty
Aggressive lockdown measures
Using expertise and evidence
Another key difference between the leadership of many African nations and the US is the extent to which people with public health policy and pandemic expertise were allowed to set guidelines.
Erosion of public trust
The pandemic’s best responders
A tragic and avoidable US death toll
The US, which had taken the lead coordinating role in most global crises over the past century, abdicated its leadership position early during this pandemic. Other global powers will have to fill that vacuum, but African countries took on promising regional coordination roles.
The rapidly escalating death toll in the US is tragic because much of it was avoidable. But African nations offer a hopeful message for the future.
Epidemics are inevitable, but clear-headed, evidence-informed leadership can mitigate the human consequences of this disease.