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The toll of COVID-19 on African children

The full paper can be viewed here.


Few data on the COVID-19 epidemiological characteristics among the pediatric population in Africa exists. This paper examines the age and sex distribution of the morbidity and mortality rate in children with COVID-19 and compares it to the adult population in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries.


A merge line listing dataset shared by countries within the Regional Office for Africa was analyzed. Patients diagnosed within 1 March and 1 September 2020 with a confirmed positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 were analyzed. Children’s data were stratified into three age groups: 0-4 years, 5-11 years, and 12-17 years, while adults were combined. The cumulative incidence of cases, its medians, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


9% of the total confirmed cases and 2.4% of the reported deaths were pediatric cases. The 12-17 age group in all 15 countries showed the highest cumulative incidence proportion in children. Adults had a higher case incidence per 100,000 people than children.


The cases and deaths within the children’s population were smaller than the adult population. These differences may reflect biases in COVID-19 testing protocols and reporting implemented by countries, highlighting the need for more extensive investigation and focus on the effects of COVID-19 in children.