African countries should use antibody tests to determine whether the slower spread and lower death rates of the new coronavirus are due to incomplete data or a more resilient population, former UK prime minister Tony Blair said on Friday.
Unlike the diagnostic tests, which determine if someone has the virus, the antibody tests reports if someone had the virus and recovered from the Covid-19 illness and potentially built immunity.
Mr Blair, writing for his eponymous institute, said that the approach would prevent Africa facing what he called "collateral damage" brought about by focusing on fighting the pandemic at the expense of other health challenges.
He said the continent had to "take its own path:"
Africa has to deal with #COVID19 with a focus on preventing huge collateral damage to food supply & therefore damage to the health of people. Our report examines the pathway African govts should take in confronting this virus.
Africa has cumulatively reported nearly 100,000 Covid-19 cases so far and just over 3,000 deaths - far fewer than in many European nations.
The continent's young population has been attributed as one potential explanation for the low relative number of deaths.
Testing rates have, however, been relatively low so it is possible that the reported cases do not represent the real scale of the infections.