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Reconciling model predictions with low reported cases of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa: insights from Madagascar.

Abstract

), and (3) policy interventions. The low number of cases have led some SSA governments to relaxing these policy interventions. Will this result in a resurgence of cases? To understand how to interpret the lower-than-expected COVID-19 case data in Madagascar, we use a simple age-structured model to explore each of these explanations and predict the epidemic impact associated with them. We show that the incidence of COVID-19 cases as of July 2020 can be explained by any combination of the late introduction of first imported cases, early implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and low case detection rates. We then re-evaluate these findings in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic in Madagascar through August 2020. This analysis reinforces that Madagascar, along with other countries in SSA, remains at risk of a growing health crisis. If NPIs remain enforced, up to 50,000 lives may be saved. Even with NPIs, without vaccines and new therapies, COVID-19 could infect up to 30% of the population, making it the largest public health threat in Madagascar for the coming year, hence the importance of clinical trials and continually improving access to healthcare.

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