In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s response has been met with intrigue, admiration, skepticism and criticisms. The continent has exhibited relatively lower infection and mortality rates compared to other regions. Earlier in the pandemic, many scientists, mostly outside the continent, attempted to explain Africa’s COVID-19 outcome using a narrow set of parameters. The models painted a dark picture of COVID-19 in the continent. Others outrightly praised Africa for the way it handled the pandemic. Professor Awandare’s Awandare Hypothesis stands at the nexus of these two.
During his inaugural lecture, Professor Awandare remarked
As African scientists, there are many lessons we take from this unfortunate era. Some were positive, but we have to acknowledge the challenges that we’ve had to contend with, which will inform our strategy going forward. One of the first lessons we learned is that African scientists have to tell our own story, and that’s why we’re here. We have to tell the story of how the pandemic unfolded on the continent. We have had various versions of how the pandemic affected Africa. On one hand, there are people who have never been to Africa but have used modelling to predict that the continent would be wiped out by the epidemic. On the other hand, some people think that Africa did wonderfully and controlled the virus, but we think that is false and misleading. Our research shows that the virus did spread very well and fast on the continent, and the fast spread is our advantage.Professor Gordon Awandare, June 8, 2023
The earlier hypothesis often ignored important factors. Omission of these important variables limited the proposals’ ability to capture the complexities and nuance of Africa’s epidemicity, and prevented them from fully capturing the reality of the SARS-CoV-2 situation in Africa. This is where the Awandare Hypothesis comes in.
Professor Gordon Awandare’s unifying framework combines multiple factors into a cohesive explanation. This hypothesis synthesizes various elements that have contributed to Africa’s effective fight against COVID-19.
Unifying Factors of the Awandare Hypothesis
The Awandare Hypothesis captures the points below, to elucidate the spread of the virus in the continent.
- Demographic Advantage
- Human Genetic Factors
- Warm Climate
- Cross Protection from Prior Infections
- Robust Immune Systems
- Effective Control Measures
- Better Patient Management
- Unreported Cases
- Divine intervention
The Awandare Hypothesis acknowledges demographic advantage, stringent measures, young population, the potential cross-protection from malaria immunity, the advantage of warm climate, Robust Immune system, and Better Patient Management. While he acknowledged unrecorded cases, he clarified that if all the unwanted cases are accounted for, the death rate will be far lower than is currently recorded. He humorously commented on divine intervention. However, it is unclear if he meant that seriously, since there won’t be any empirical evidence for such a factor. By integrating these factors, the hypothesis provides a comprehensive framework for understanding Africa’s remarkable achievements in the face of the pandemic.
Africa’s success against COVID-19 cannot be attributed to a single factor alone, but is the result of a combination of multiple elements. The Awandare Hypothesis unifies these diverse explanations, highlighting the importance of early measures, demographic factors, prior experience with infectious diseases, and potential cross-protection from malaria immunity. Understanding Africa’s success can inspire global efforts in pandemic preparedness, foster cross-disciplinary research, and drive future strategies for managing infectious diseases.