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Is India’s Covid Spike a Concern for Sub-Saharan Africa? Week Ahead

The soaring second wave of Covid-19 cases in India doesn’t look to be abating anytime soon, and its presence suggests that developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa could become the next target of the opportunistic virus.

Having already lapped the globe once, the coronavirus—which appears far from fading out—is on the prowl again for new hosts.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Carissa Etienne, a director at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said the Covid-19 “pandemic is not only not over” but actually “accelerating.”

Etienne said equitable access to vaccines and effective preventive measures are needed to change the course of the pandemic.

India on Friday set a world record for daily cases, this time hitting a tally of 386,452 infections. The New York Times reported that some believe India’s second wave is due to a variant bearing more than two mutations, while others say the contagious U.K. variant is possibly to blame for the flare.

But there could be another reason why cases are spiking in India. PAHO’s Etienne cited equitable access to vaccines, but it’s usually the developing nations that often find there’s not enough vaccines to go around.

India’s Health Ministry said the country has given out just over 150 million jabs to its nearly 1.4 billion-strong population. And the government said on Friday that 94 vaccination centers in Mumbai, India’s largest city, would need to close for a three-day period due to the lack of available Covid vaccines.

Countries with a vaccine suprlus are being asked to ship the extras, while some nations are sending over other forms of assistance, such as ventilators and oxygen tanks.

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Meanwhile, warmer climates and perhaps even younger populations that may have helped insulate Sub-Saharan Africa from Covid’s first round are finding that this no longer appears to the case. Etienne has raised the alarm, stating the Covid now appears to be targeting people under age 50.

So if the Sub-Saharan region suddenly finds itself in Covid’s path, the impact could be devastating both in terms of loss of life and the economic fallout requiring years of recovery.

Last year, the Nigerian government partnered with the Katsina state government to establish an Integrated Textile and Garment Park to revitalize the textile industry and boost cotton production and slated for completion within 24 months.

Data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel in March showed that sourcing for denim jeans is shifting. Of the Top 10 supplier countries, only four showed increased shipments to the U.S. for the first two months of 2021. One of those countries was Lesotho. The nation’s rise was joined by a 28.6 percent increase to $24.6 million from the Sub-Saharan region, where qualifying countries are part of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preference program. Other AGOA countries posting gains were Madagascar, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Madagascar, in addition to cotton, is known for locally grown silk. Mauritius has facilities for spinning, knitting and weaving, as well as finishing for dyed and printed fabrics, such as for knitwear and T-shirts. Cameroon is known for raffia weaving and embroidered gowns.