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Policymakers in Africa need robust estimates of the current and future spread of SARS-CoV-2. We used national surveillance PCR test, serological survey and mobility data to develop and fit a county-specific transmission model for Kenya up to the end of September 2020, which encompasses the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the country. We estimate that the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic peaked before the end of July 2020 in the major urban counties, with 30-50% of residents infected. Our analysis suggests, first, that the reported low COVID-19 disease burden in Kenya cannot be explained solely by limited spread of the virus, and second, that a 30-50% attack rate was not sufficient to avoid a further wave of transmission.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome open research

Publication Date





Kenya Medical Research Institute - Wellcome Trust Research programme, Kilifi, Kenya.