“Although there are relatively fewer cases on the continent, this study shows us that people infected with the virus have the same levels of severity as elsewhere in the world,” said Dr. Marie Jaspard, infectious disease researcher at ALIMA. “In Europe and the USA, the pressure on hospital services, especially intensive care units, is a very strong indicator of the burden of the epidemic. On the African continent, as elsewhere, we must continue to explore interventions that will reduce mortality, both in the general population and in populations at risk.”
Although there are relatively fewer cases on the continent, this study shows us that people infected with the virus have the same levels of severity as elsewhere in the world
The COVISTA (COronaVIrus STAndard of care) study was carried out in Burkina Faso and Guinea, in partnership with Inserm-1219 (University of Bordeaux), the CORAL (Clinical and Operational Research ALliance) platform, and the Ministries of Health in these two countries. It prospectively collected clinical data on nearly 2,000 symptomatic patients hospitalised in three COVID-19 treatment centers, between March and November 2020. These results align with those of a similar study by the African COVID-19 Critical Care Outcomes Study (ACCCOS) in The Lancet.
More COVID-19 research in Africa is needed
Among the more than 3,000 research studies related to COVID-19 that are currently underway, the majority are being conducted in Europe and the United States. Just 145 are taking place in Africa. While there have been some retrospective population or hospital-based cohort studies reporting mortality data on patients in Africa, there have been very few cohort studies that provide individual-level prospective evidence on the severity of the disease.
Understanding the factors associated with COVID-19 mortality is particularly important in low-income countries, where the capacity to care for severe cases is very limited. Indeed, standard of care, including oxygen therapy, remains the most important part of treatment for severe cases, but its supply is scarce in many African countries. In addition, there is an urgent need to find curative treatments that, if administered early, could prevent patients from developing a severe form of COVID-19.
That is why ALIMA launched COVISTA, with the objective of describing the clinical and biological course and standard of care of patients with COVID-19. The results showed that the disease is just as serious in Africa as in the rest of the world, especially among the elderly and those with high blood pressure.
*Cover photo: © Ricci Shryock / ALIMA