Covid-19 is no different to malaria and can be treated with antimalarial drugs, so there’s no need for a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa, claims a message posted on the “Radio Biafra London” Facebook page in January 2021.
“Africa does not need any covid-19 vaccines,” it reads. “Covid-19 is nothing different from Malaria. Covid-19 is a modified Malaria in the Lab. The pathogens are the same. Nobody should bring a vaccine to us here in the name of a loan. Malaria drugs can take care of Covid-19. On no account I repeat.”
But it’s completely false. Medical evidence and experts say there’s no similarity between Covid-19 and malaria.
Malaria caused by parasite, Covid-19 caused by virus
Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasites while Covid-19 is caused by a virus, Adamu Bakari, a professor of medicine at the Ahmadu Bello University at Zaria in northwest Nigeria, told Africa Check. Specifically, Covid-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called Sars-CoV-2.
“Though some Covid-19 symptoms are similar to those commonly associated with malaria, they are not the same in any way,” Bakari said.
“Plasmodium is many times bigger than viruses such as the coronavirus. While you can see plasmodium under a simple microscope, you need an electron microscope to see a virus. So their pathogens, which means the causative agents, for Covid-19 and malaria, are not similar.”
Malaria drugs don’t cure Covid-19
“Malaria is a parasitic disease, while Covid-19 is viral,” he said. “There have been claims that some antimalarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are effective against Covid-19. But the clinical trial didn’t prove them to be effective and so it has been abandoned. The vaccine is effective. I advise people to take it when they become available in Nigeria.”
In June 2020, the World Health Organization stopped a trial of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.
Medical experts we spoke to urged people to take precautions, use face masks, observe social distancing, wash their hands regularly, visit a hospital if they had symptoms related to Covid-19, and avoid self-medication.
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.
Fighting coronavirus misinformation
Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Learn more about the alliance here.