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Covid-19 Africa data analysis

The COVID pandemic has waxed and waned since it began in March 2020. I was curious to know how Africa is currently fairing during the pandemic.

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About the project

In March 2020, the WHO declared COVID a pandemic. COVID cases rose, and the death toll increased. Tests were developed to quickly detect COVID cases. By 2020’s end and early 2021, companies had developed vaccines to neutralise the virus. But that didn’t stop the spread. It’s 2022 and although the talk has fizzled, COVID is still out there. Since its inception, it has impacted more lives than we can imagine.

I explored COVID-19 data (February 2020 – 24th June 2022) from Our World in Data (OWID). I focused on Africa and asked:

  • How is Africa fairing in comparison to other continents?
  • Which African countries have the most cases, tests, deaths and vaccinations?
  • How have cases, tests, deaths and vaccinations in Africa increased or decreased over time?


Africa & the rest of the world

I was eager to discover how Africa and African countries fared during the pandemic. After wrangling the data with SQL, I sought to visualise and better understand the insights with PowerBI.

In comparison with other continents, Africa isn’t doing badly. As of June 24th 2022, Africa recorded approx. 12m cases, 255k deaths, 62m tests and 250m vaccinations.

Africa in comparison with other continents

The continent ranks second to the last in terms of cases and deaths. But it also has the least no. of tests. This might pose a challenge for the continent because COVID cases are mostly discovered through tests. I found that tests and cases have a high positive correlation (r = 0.94). Is it possible that there are undiscovered cases lurking on the continent? I believe so.

Since January 2022, cases, tests, deaths, and vaccines have declined

Cases, deaths & vaccinations (Feb 2022 – June 2022)

I mentioned earlier that more tests lead to an increase in cases. The number of deaths and cases peaked in July 2021. For tests, it was August 2021. Vaccinations began in January 2021. It peaked in February 2022. Egypt has the highest number of fully vaccinated people and has dispensed 15% of the continent’s vaccinations (complete doses).

Top five countries with the most vaccinations in Africa

However, since January 2022, cases, tests, deaths, and vaccines have declined. Talk about COVID has died down, so has the action against it.

South Africa topping the charts

South Africa is the country with the most COVID tests (24.81m, 40%), cases (3.97m, 33%), and deaths (101.39k, 40%) on the continent.

Top five countries with the most tests in Africa
Top five countries with the most cases in Africa
Top five countries with the most deaths in Africa

Why South Africa?

It’s hard to say. Since it has the most COVID tests it is likely that they will find more cases and track COVID-related deaths. Besides, there is a strong positive correlation (r = 0.94) between COVID cases and COVID tests and COVID deaths and COVID cases (r = 0.98). More tests lead to more cases, more cases lead to more deaths and vice versa.

In trying to determine the cause, I found that there are weak but positive correlations between COVID deaths and median age (r = 0.32 ) and COVID cases and population (r = 0.23). I also considered the GDP. I thought that a country with a high GDP should be able to afford more COVID tests. Well, it turns out that the correlation between Total tests and GDP per capita of each country is negligible (r = -0.01). It is safe to assume that both variables have no correlation.

Wrap up

There might be other factors that make South Africa top the charts. From the kind of government, they have to their level of transparency, availability of more tests and so on. All these may in one way or the other influence their current position. However, from the current data, all we know is that since South Africa has more tests, their lead in cases and deaths isn’t far-fetched.