Addressing Inequality in the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa: A Snapshot from Clinical Symptoms to Vaccine Distribution

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On 30 January 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of global concern. COVID-19 became pandemic on 11 March 2020, and spread unprecedently. No country was prepared to face its impact. Major fears started to be expressed for Africa, where dramatic consequences were expected, due to the weakness of health systems. In this review, we related major concerns, at that time but still present, regarding the limited resources in terms of qualified physicians and researchers, as well as the scarce funds to purchase essential medical equipment and improve hospital infrastructures. The difficulties to provide proper care became an undeniable mark of inequality, highlighting the need to empower local capacity and raise preparedness against infection outbreaks. The transmissibility of genetic variants affecting African nations, the immunopathology underlying comorbidities, sequelae, and pre-existing conditions, often related to changes in iron metabolism and enhancing COVID-19 severity, were described. The obstacles in adopting standardized prevention measures were highlighted, along with testing capacity biases and inequity of healthcare access and vaccine distribution. By providing a better understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, we draw attention to the need for collaborative efforts to leverage the quality of healthcare and research in this continent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-190
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Africa
  • COVID-19
  • immunopathology
  • infections
  • iron
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • vaccination inequity


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