One in 5 Africans believed COVID-19 lies

COVID-19 Vaccine

By Our Reporter

One in every five persons in sub-Saharan Africa believed in the misinformation about COVID-19 and did not comply with the precautionary measures, new study has found.

With little known about the disease at the outset of the outbreak, the social media and in some cases religious and world leaders were used to spread rumours, conspiracy theories and bad information about COVID-19, making the job of public health official more difficult and spreading fear and panic, especially among the low-income nations.

In a study published in the current issue of Health Security, which surveyed about 2000 people, researchers in Africa and other parts of the world reported that a significant number of Africans (about one in five people) believed the misconceptions about COVID-19, especially older adults, women, those who were unemployed at the time of the study and people living in Central Africa.

According to the study, the misinformation made a lot of people living in sub-Saharan Africa reluctant to follow with approved public health protocols such as social distancing, wearing of masks and hand washing because they believed that they had a low risk of being infected with the Coronavirus.

Regarding the myths surrounding the 5G network and the coronavirus disease, the study which surveyed respondents across countries in different regions of sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic and South Africa, found that over seven percent of the respondents believed that the network was responsible for the pandemic.

The researchers who are members of the African Research Translation Group, stressed that their findings had far reaching implications and influence on individual actions and portended danger for future interventions such as vaccines and drug treatments, which were already being rolled out.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that their findings underscored the need for health messages aimed at dispelling misinformation, misconceptions and myths, saying that the messages should be designed to target specific subgroups as identified in their research.

Uchechukwu Levi Osuagwu (PhD), School of Medicine, Western University, Australia, is the Group Convener of the research.
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