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A Covid Mystery in Africa

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 7 April 2022

⏱️ 31 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


As countries have struggled with disease and death throughout the coronavirus pandemic, one part of the world seems to have been mostly spared: central and western Africa. South Africa was deeply affected by waves of the coronavirus, as were countries in East Africa like Kenya and Uganda. But nations in the center and west of the continent appear to have been largely spared. What is behind these low case and death rates — and what does that tell us about the future of the pandemic? Guest: Stephanie Nolen, a global health reporter for The New York Times.

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From the New York Times, I'm Sabrina Tavernice. This is the Daily.


Throughout the pandemic, as countries have struggled with disease and death,


one part of the world seems to have been mysteriously spared.


Central and Western Africa,


my colleague Stephanie Nolan traveled to Sierra Leone to investigate why that is


and what it tells us about the future of the pandemic.


It's Thursday, April 7th.


So Stephanie, you're a global health reporter at the Times.


Tell me about the kind of reporting that you've been doing during the pandemic.


So generally, a global health reporter looks at the big health problems that cut across regions of the world,


things like infectious disease, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV.


But of course, in the COVID era, that's mostly meant reporting on COVID.


And I've been doing a lot of reporting in particular on vaccination and on the efforts to try to vaccinate the world.


And in February, I took a trip in Sierra Leone where I was hoping to figure out what was happening in some of the least vaccinated countries


and also to do some reporting on some of the other issues we haven't paid as much attention to in the pandemic.


So I arrived in Free Town, the capital of Sierra Leone, at what was the height of the Omicron wave.


And I was coming from Canada, which was a country really in the grip of another wave of the pandemic.


And I hired a vehicle with a driver and I kidded it out with masks and hand sanitizer and rapid tests.


And we headed up to the northwest of the country the first day was there.


And it was really startling. We saw there was a big, rot concert in the town when we were staying.


There was a big football tournament with people packed into watch it.


Nobody had a mask on. And it really seemed like COVID was just not a thing.


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