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ABSTRACT Background The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented global research effort to build a body of knowledge that can inform mitigation strategies. We carried out a bibliometric analysis to describe the COVID-19 research output in Africa. Methods We searched for articles published between 1st December 2019 and 3rd January 2021 from various databases including PubMed, African Journals Online, MedRxiv, BioRxiv, Collabovid, the World Health Organisation global research database and Google for grey literature. Editorial type publications and papers reporting original research done in Africa and were included. Data analysis was done using Microsoft Excel. Results A total of 1296 articles were retrieved. 46.6% were primary research articles, 48.6% were editorials type articles while 4.6% were secondary research articles. 20.3% articles used the entire continent of Africa as their study setting while South Africa (15.4%) was the most common country focused setting. 90.3% of the articles had at least one African researcher as author, 78.5% had an African researcher as first author, while 63.5% had an African researcher as last author. The University of Cape Town tops the list with the greatest number of first and last authors. Over 13% of the articles were published in MedRxiv and of the studies that declared funding, the Wellcome Trust was the top funding body. The most common research topics include “country preparedness and response” (24.9%) and “the direct and indirect health impacts of the pandemic” (21.6%). However, only 1.0% of articles focus on therapeutics and vaccines. Conclusions This study sheds light on the contribution of African researchers to COVID-19 research in Africa and highlights Africa’s existing capacity to carry out research that addresses local problems. However, the uneven distribution of research productivity amongst African countries emphasizes the need for increased investment where needed.

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