Seattle — Deaths Could Range from 85,688 to 180,273, Depending on Prevention Measures

South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe most at-risk of high numbers of deaths

Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC: ‘Many thousands of deaths can be prevented’

In new COVID-19 projections for sub Saharan Africa, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington forecasts that nearly universal adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing mandates in hard-hit countries could prevent up to 73,085 deaths in the region by December 1.

Even in this best-case scenario, the pandemic would still take a heavy toll on the region, with an estimated total of 85,688 COVID-19 deaths by December (up from 15,000 deaths in mid-July). If governments instead continue to relax social distancing measures and mask-wearing is not widely practiced, total deaths by December 1 could rise to 180,273.

Near universal adherence to mask-wearing and other prevention measures could reduce the death toll to 85,688 total deaths by December 1. However, if people ignore such efforts, IHME forecasts 158,773 deaths.

“It is encouraging that in many sub-Saharan African countries, early mandates to practice social distancing and limit travel mitigated the spread of COVID-19,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “These new projections suggest such mandates must continue to play a critical role, and that people in all countries should wear masks regularly. As we have seen in the United States, the price of loosening these mitigation efforts prematurely could be significant increases in new cases and deaths.”

IHME’s modeling of the COVID-19 pandemic draws on reporting from African ministries of health as well as data characterizing the virus’s spread from countries around the world. The projections were produced in consultation with the Africa CDC, an arm of the African Union.

“These data provide an additional set of projections that governments can take into consideration in their decision-making process on how best to protect lives,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC. “Many thousands of deaths can be prevented by continuing to encourage correct, widespread, consistent mask use, social distancing, and careful people movement. We at the Africa CDC are working closely and collaboratively with heads of state, ministers of health, and others to provide counsel on how to navigate this epidemic, while seeking to minimize the economic and social consequences.”

According to IHME’s projections, the largest numbers of deaths are likely to occur in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe (see table below).

Projected Total COVID-19 Deaths by December 1

Scenario 1:

Social distancing mandates continue to ease

Scenario 2:

Mandates are re-imposed for 6 weeks in countries where daily death rate exceeds 8 per million

Scenario 3:

Mandates are re-imposed for 6 weeks in countries where daily death rate exceeds 8 per million AND face mask usage rapidly increases to 95% starting now

Angola

273 (range of 142 to 559)

273 (142 to 559)

194 (121 to 343)

Benin

816 (38 to 6600)

816 (38 to 6600)

98 (38 to 431)

Burkina Faso

55 (55 to 55)

55 (55 to 55)

55 (55 to 55)

Cameroon

459 (402 to 625)

459 (402 to 625)

425 (401 to 469)

Cape Verde

27 (25 to 31)

27 (25 to 31)

27 (25 to 31)

Central African Republic

726 (63 to 5054)

726 (63 to 5054)

251 (63 to 1781)

Chad

74 (74 to 74)

74 (74 to 74)

74 (74 to 74)

Comoros

7 (7 to 7)

7 (7 to 7)

7 (7 to 7)

Congo

95 (61 to 266)

95 (61 to 266)

71 (61 to 112)

Côte d’Ivoire

421 (155 to 1,057)

421 (155 to 1,057)

138 (119 to 182)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

496 (286 to 1,162)

496 (286 to 1,162)

284 (252 to 351)

Djibouti

61 (60 to 64)

61 (60 to 64)

61 (60 to 64)

Eswatini

718 (291 to 1,315)

718 (291 to 1,315)

523 (200 to 1,057)

Ethiopia

38,081 (5,119 to 124,801)

38,081 (5,119 to 124,801)

13,603 (1,899 to 60,961)

Gabon

151 (54 to 988)

151 (54 to 988)

73 (54 to 230)

Gambia

2,432 (21 to 4,399)

1,627 (21 to 4,088)

998 (18 to 3,740)

Ghana

1,822 (345 to 9,391)

1,822 (345 to 9,391)

469 (246 to 1,456)

Guinea

313 (56 to 1,444)

313 (56 to 1,444)

100 (55 to 296)

Guinea-Bissau

27 (26 to 27)

27 (26 to 27)

27 (26 to 27)

Kenya

16,510 (1,784 to 51,198)

16,510 (1,784 to 51,198)

5,124 (782 to 18,497)

Liberia

178 (73 to 887)

178 (73 to 887)

82 (73 to 115)

Madagascar

6,689 (756 to 21,709)

6,689 (756 to 21,709)

4,477 (502 to 15,837)

Malawi

1,822 (177 to 8,298)

1,822 (177 to 8,298)

613 (165 to 2,459)

Mali

128 (127 to 131)

128 (127 to 131)

128 (127 to 130)

Mauritania

159 (156 to 166)

159 (156 to 166)

158 (156 to 163)

Mozambique

75 (12 to 766)

75 (12 to 766)

17 (12 to 62)

Namibia

1,938 (39 to 5,299)

1,205 (38 to 4,467)

1,019 (30 to 4,153)

Niger

71 (70 to 72)

71 (70 to 72)

71 (70 to 71)

Nigeria

1,724 (1,046 to 3,543)

1,724 (1,046 to 3,543)

1,107 (979 to 1,424)

Rwanda

5 (5 to 6)

5 (5 to 6)

5 (5 to 6)

São Tomé and Príncipe

80 (16 to 322)

80 (16 to 322)

36 (16 to 159)

Senegal

10,949 (2,555 to 24,901)

6,878 (1,569 to 20,360)

2,904 (736 to 11,202)

Sierra Leone

68 (67 to 69)

68 (67 to 69)

68 (67 to 69)

Somalia

92 (92 to 92)

92 (92 to 92)

92 (92 to 92)

South Africa

41,391 (25,256 to 62,555)

41,391 (25,563 to 62,555)

31,529 (19,936 to 46,944)

South Sudan

459 (48 to 4,156)

459 (48 to 4,156)

103 (48 to 630)

Togo

39 (22 to 146)

39 (22 to 146)

28 (22 to 38)

Uganda

40,682 (124 to 69,644)

24,782 (41 to 68,297)

17,958 (13 to 65,906)

United Republic of Tanzania

6,552 (1,408 to 19,977)