Following yesterday’s claim by the Akufo-Addo Government that the country has flattened its Covid-19 infections data curve, Ghanaian scientists are pooh-poohing the claim as fanciful talk.
In what had become a suspicious database of Ghana’s Covid-19 records, the dissenting scientists have countered the Ghana Health Services (GHS) projection of a peaked infection curve that it does not support any verifiable scientific data that they are looking at.
One of the strong critics of the government’s projection is a Virologist from the Kumasi Center of Collaborative Research, Dr. Isaac Owusu, explains that even the data that the government is relying on is not good enough to use for plotting a curve.
“Before you can plot the curve, you need real-time data. This data talks about the incident case per unit time, so every day, how many new cases do you get. And the cases not being cases that are reported by the labs but cases based on samples that are collected from the people. As in real-time and then based on that data you can now plot your epidemic curve.”
He adds that the usable data is just the first hurdle, however, and that even using it to plot the curve would require guidance from a model curve.
“But you also need a model curve that will tell you that if you have an unmitigated approach, your curve is likely to assume a conical shape where you hit the peak and then descend. The data we are seeing is cumulated data and that one it will be very difficult to begin to make projections that we have flattened the curve,” he said.
Dr. Owusu points out that Ghana at the moment does not have any real-time data as the data available to the government is only data from laboratories. Neither does the country have a model curve in place.
“I think we have to be quite cautious about saying that we have arrived and the peak,” he said adding that the graph of infections even vary from region to region and so there is no basis to proclaim that the country has reached its infections peak. “…the curve varies even regionally and Accra could be assuming a second curve; Kumasi may not have, Central Region may also start their own. First of all, we have to put all the national data together and saying we have arrived must be done cautiously.”
He adds for good measure that only data from specialist scientific institutions such as the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences which he revealed is collecting real-time data can be reliably used to determine whether the country has reached its infections peak or not.
Dr. Owusu’s position is adlibbed by Mr. Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, a Fellow at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) who said that proper estimate of the rate at which Ghana’s infections are increasing is as high as 2.5 just.5 below the global rate of 3.
“When there are a number of factors at play which make the disease spread, then you are talking of a graph that is mimicking a polynomial curve. Under these circumstances, you are nowhere near your peak because you need to increase the number of factors that have impact on the spread and how do you know, and how do you know your indication of number of factors, you know from the reproductive number, the ‘R’ number which everyone talks about, which is the number of people that get infected if one person gets infected quickly,” he said.
“As at now, our estimate of Ghana’s ‘R’ number is greater than 2.5.”
According to him, even the daily increase in new infections is indicative that the disease is still spreading rather than the infections peaking.
He says: “You are getting more positive because the disease is spreading, because if the disease wasn’t there, before getting to Ghana on 2nd March, even if you did 100,000 tests you wouldn’t get even a single positive case because the disease is not there. The fact that you are testing more means you would identify more but also means that the disease is spreading more. That is why in my opinion we are nowhere near our peak.”
He also suggested that only real-time data from the Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) can be relied upon to plot a proper curve for Ghana.
Dr. Patrick Aboagye, Director-General of the GHS response team has defended the government’s disputed claims saying the data shows that the rate of increase in infections have stabilized while the number of admissions have actually slowed down
“The number of deaths has been low,’ he said. Ghana has recorded 2,719 cases with 18 deaths.