Modelling COVID-19 transmission in Africa: Countrywise projections of total and severe infections under different lockdown scenarios

Isabel Frost, Jessica Craig, Gilbert Osena, Stephanie Hauck, Erta Kalanxhi, Emily Schueller, Oliver Gatalo, Yupeng Yang, Katie K. Tseng, Gary Lin, Eili Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives As of 13 January 2021, there have been 3 113 963 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 and 74 619 deaths across the African continent. Despite relatively lower numbers of cases initially, many African countries are now experiencing an exponential increase in case numbers. Estimates of the progression of disease and potential impact of different interventions are needed to inform policymaking decisions. Herein, we model the possible trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 in 52 African countries under different intervention scenarios. Design We developed a compartmental model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to estimate the COVID-19 case burden for all African countries while considering four scenarios: no intervention, moderate lockdown, hard lockdown and hard lockdown with continued restrictions once lockdown is lifted. We further analysed the potential impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations affected by HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB). Results In the absence of an intervention, the most populous countries had the highest peaks in active projected number of infections with Nigeria having an estimated 645 081 severe infections. The scenario with a hard lockdown and continued post-lockdown interventions to reduce transmission was the most efficacious strategy for delaying the time to the peak and reducing the number of cases. In South Africa, projected peak severe infections increase from 162 977 to 2 03 261, when vulnerable populations with HIV/AIDS and TB are included in the analysis. Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly spreading across the African continent. Estimates of the potential impact of interventions and burden of disease are essential for policymakers to make evidence-based decisions on the distribution of limited resources and to balance the economic costs of interventions with the potential for saving lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044149
JournalBMJ open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2021


  • epidemiology
  • public health
  • respiratory infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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