A COVID-19 crisis outline threat assessment for Zimbabwe by Imperial College (London) predicts that, over the next 250 days, the country is likely to record between 8 370 104 and 13 981 038 infections and between 14 943 and 33 073 deaths.

Part of the assessment report reads:

1. Context, Assumptions and Consequences

This threat assessment utilizes modelling developed by the Imperial College (London) COVID-19 Response Team headed by Professor Neil Ferguson (and released on 26 March 2020) on progression patterns of COVID-19 as applied to Zimbabwe. The study incorporates a range of factors including both general global patterns of progression and specific features applicable to less developed countries.

In the range of scenarios projected in the Imperial College study, over the next 250 days Zimbabwe is anticipated to experience: 

  • Between 8 370 104 and 13 981 038 infections; 
  • Between 14 943 and 33 073 deaths;
  • Requiring between 126 738 and 230 755 hospital beds;
  • Including between 19 810 and 43 864 critical care beds.

Although the primary intention of the scenario modelling in this study is to draw attention to the implications of prompt and appropriate intervention strategies, and whilst the study does not explicitly address broader contextual and impact issues, it does note that impact “is likely to be most severe in low-income settings where capacity is lowest… As a result, we anticipate that the true burden in low-income settings pursuing mitigation strategies could be substantially higher than reflected in these estimates”.

Whilst all such generic models are based on a series of assumptions, and, in this particular context, the data is approximate, for the purpose of a threat assessment the progression patterns of the disease provide a general indication of the health consequences that are likely to emerge. It is on the basis of this framing of the disease progression and health impact that this outline threat assessment is constructed.

2. Implications In the circumstances of the collapsed health care system in Zimbabwe today, the first conclusion drawn from this data is that the anticipated requirement for hospital beds and critical care simply does not exist. As a result, we can expect a higher mortality rate than the model suggests as a direct result of the disease itself.

Assuming that, in the absence of hospital capacity at least half of those requiring hospitalization will die, the number of deaths in Zimbabwe would be between 75 000 and 150 000. Taking account of other factors that arise from state incapacity, general levels of poverty, food insecurity, other existing health threats and more broadly the impact of disease containment measures (lockdown, border closure and production loss),

 

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