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African authorship on African papers during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Antoinette Vanessa Naidoo,
  2. Peter Hodkinson,
  3. Lauren Lai King,
  4. Lee A Wallis
  1. Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Lee A Wallis; lee.wallis{at}

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  • Previous studies suggest that Africans have been underrepresented in medical literature related to the burden of disease on their continent, with their research sector producing less than 1% of the world’s health research each year.

  • Results from the 10 journals included in this analysis suggest that African representation in African COVID-19 literature is insufficient, particularly in opinion-based articles oriented towards providing advice on system response and clinical care.

  • Seventeen per cent of the world’s population lives in Africa, but only 3.9% of articles related to COVID-19 published in the top 10 medical journals is relevant to the continent.

  • One in five African COVID-19 papers had no African authors, and 66.1% of authors on African papers were not from Africa.

  • We recommend that journals develop inclusivity policies for content related to low-resource settings to accelerate progress towards better representation of local populations in the medical literature that affects them directly.

With no known cure or vaccine, sharing of information and experiences in real-time became imperative to improving the standard of medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases rapidly surged worldwide, and so too did medical publications.1 The international media and scientific community reported grave concerns about the capacity of fragile, overburdened healthcare systems as cases began to rise in low-resource settings (LRS), such as those in Africa.2 3 African voices and research are needed to guide the local pandemic response. But, historically, African authors have been underrepresented in medical literature related to the burden of disease on their continent4–6; it may well be the case that the same has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.7 We aimed to investigate the representation of African authors publishing research and commenting on COVID-19 in Africa.

A systematic search was conducted using MeSH (medical search heading) terms and other keywords to …

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