Why Nigeria’s covid rate is falling


Sopuruchi Onwuka

The falling rate of coronavirus infection in Nigeria and other African countries around the equatorial belt may the natural advantage of hot weather and humid climate which scientists have determined to work against spread of the disease vector.

According to national covid-19 data developed by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, confirmed cases of Covid-19 from 55 African countries as of May 2 reached 4.6 million while about 12.5 million vaccines have been administered across the continent.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The data derived from statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well as national and regional public health departments.

The figures showed that reported deaths in Africa reached 122,068 and about 4.1 million people have recovered.

South Africa which has the coldest weather conditions in the continent reported highest number of cases which reached about 1.6 million infections and about 54,406 deaths. Other most-affected countries are Morocco with 511,562 cases; Tunisia with 310,734 cases; Ethiopia with 258,062 cases; Egypt which has 228,584 reported infections; Libya with 177,508 infections; and Nigeria which has 165,110 cases.

According to Worldometer data, Nigeria specifically has reported 165,181 cases of coronavirus on May 3 out of which 155,361 recovered and 2,063 have died.  Active cases were 7,757 of which critically ill patients were 11; new cases were only 28. The Nigeria’s figures translate to infection rate of 0.0785 percent. Death rate is 0.001 percent.

However, the overall comfort of the Nigerian covid-19 figures is punctured by the volume and accuracy of data upon which it is based. Total test of 1,912,628 in a population of 210,372,768 translates to a rate of approximately 0.91 percent coverage, uncomfortably  less than one percent.

Also the COVID-19 Worldometer confirmed global figures as at May 3 at about 153.6 million, with deaths hitting about 3.22 million 218,212 and recoveries at some 131 million.

According to the new findings by researchers from Germany and China, the rate of infection and associated death is directly proportionate to distance from the equatorial belt.

According to the result of concerted research by scientists from the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health in Germany and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, there is proportionate increase in the rate of coronavirus infection as location of countries grows distant from the equator.

The findings from the researchers have provided scientific support to earlier speculations that the new coronavirus disease also called covid-19 might be a cold weather plague as simulations begin to align prevalence of the outbreaks with weather conditions.

Thus, Africa’s tropical equatorial region that includes most countries in Middle East and Africa may be in advantage over temperate regions on the spread of coronavirus disease if the pointers in the scientific study become confirmed.

The results of a report published in the Scientific Reports hold that whereas warm weathers do not rule out spread of coronavirus, the weather conditions might play role in suppressing rapid spread of the virus in places where governments are already driving containment measures.

Oracle Intelligence reports that the rate of covid-19 spread and associated fatalities is comparatively insignificant in tropical Africa than in Europe, North America and Asia where the weather is quite much colder. And since late 2020, case load especially in Nigeria has been on the slope.

The new study published in the Scientific Report suggests that warm temperatures and tropical climates may really help reduce the spread of COVID-9.

The study found that places with warm temperatures and long hours of sunlight, such as countries close to the equator and those experiencing summer, had a lower rate of COVID-19 cases compared with countries farther away from the equator and those experiencing colder weather.

The findings came after the researchers took into account other factors that could affect both the spread of COVID-19 and the number of reported cases, such as a country’s level of urbanization and the intensity of COVID-19 testing.

Still, the authors stress that their findings don’t mean that summer weather will eliminate COVID-19; but it may give people a leg up against the disease.

“Our results do not imply that the disease will vanish during summer or will not affect countries close to the equator,” the authors wrote in the report.

“Rather, the higher temperatures and more intense ultraviolet radiation in summer are likely to support public health measures to contain SARS-CoV-2,” they stated.

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in the winter of 2020, there was speculation that summer temperatures may bring relief from COVID-19. Indeed, many respiratory viruses, including flu viruses, show a seasonal pattern, peaking during the winter and dipping during the summer.

Scientists don’t know for sure why these viruses follow a seasonal pattern, but a number of factors are thought to play a role.

Studies suggest that many respiratory viruses are more stable and linger in the air longer in environments with cold temperatures and low humidity,. Human behaviors, such as gathering indoors in wintertime, could also boost transmission.

Studies in lab dishes have also found that high temperature and humidity reduce the survival of SARS-CoV-2, but whether this translates to real-world transmission was unclear.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 117 countries, using data on the spread of COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic to Jan. 9, 2021. They used statistical methods to examine the relationship between a country’s latitude and its level of COVID-19 spread. The latitude affects the amount of sunlight country receives, the temperature and humidity.

Researchers also used data from the World Health Organization to control for factors that could affect how hard a country is hit by COVID-19, such as air travel, health care expenditure, the ratio of older adults to younger people and economic development.

They found that every 1 degree increase in a country’s latitude from the equator was tied to a 4.3% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases per million people. This means that if one country is 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) closer to the equator compared with another, the country closer to the equator could expect to have 33% fewer COVID-19 cases per million people, with all other factors being equal between the countries.

“Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that heat and sunlight reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the prevalence of COVID-19,” according to the authors, from the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health in Germany and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing. The findings also mean that “the threat of epidemic resurgence may increase during winter,” as was seen in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere in December 2020 and January 2021, they said.

The authors note that their study only included data up until Jan. 9, 2021, before a number of COVID-19 variants, including variants that first emerged in South Africa and the U.K., took off around the world, so it’s unclear whether these variants will show similar patterns of seasonal infection.


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