It is quite hard to find a single Nigerian that had not once said or heard someone said or even thought of it that, COVID-19 might probably be the same with malaria. Much credence was given to this assertion when some prominent Nigerians, after recovering from the disease, asserted this in television interviews. This averment was further accentuated by the belief of many, that the disease may after all be a farce, since they are yet to see a single victim of the disease in their neighborhoods. Some even believe that if at all, the disease exists, it is the exclusivity of the wealthy people to suffer it, while there are preclusive interventions of God that have kept the masses safe from its menace.
Not too long ago, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was quoted to have said that COVID-19 should not be ruled out in anybody with symptoms of malaria, which in essence means there is even an official recognition that COVID-19 might, after all, be nothing else but malaria. In all these, it can be concluded that there actually exist some similarities between the two diseases.
In fact, the initial symptoms of malaria are just like those of COVID-19 or any other flu. These initial symptoms of malaria include fever of 38oC or above, headache, vomiting, muscle pains, malaise, diarrhoea, among others.
Placing these side by side to those of COVID-19 which include: fever, cough, breathing difficulties, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, muscle pains, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and possibly shortness of breath, pneumonia and death, one can hastily conclude that the two diseases are the same, going by the fact also, that if malaria is not promptly or properly treated, could also lead to breathing difficulties and organ failures and subsequently death like COVID-19. In essence, it unequivocally, means COVID-19 and malaria surely shared a lot of symptoms in common and indeed it wouldn’t be far-fetched for anybody to believe that both malaria and COVID-19 are the same diseases but with different appellations.
Malaria, to start with is a disease caused in humans by plasmodium parasites spread through the bites of Anopheles mosquitoes. There are basically five types of plasmodium that can cause malaria in humans. They are; Plasmodium falciparum; P. vivax; P.ovale; P.malariae and P.knowlesi. Of all these, P.falciparum is the one inculpated in causing malaria in most Nigerians and indeed most Africans. It is the commonest type of plasmodium and the most devastating.
On the other hand, COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-2). It is believed to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, released when anyone harboring the disease coughs, sneezes, breathes, talks and even sings. This spread is believed to be possible within proximity of about six feet or two metres between people. It is the droplet, when inhaled or landed in the mouths, noses or eyes of others, that can lead to the development of the disease in previously healthy people.
Also, unlike COVID-19, there are many drugs that can be used to treat malaria, though the one recommended by the World Health Organisation, for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria caused by P.falciparum, is Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies (ACTs). Meanwhile, there is still no approved medicine for the treatment of COVID-19. Though, remdesivir (Veklury) is approved for use, in some countries, for the treatment of COVID-19 in certain situations, and Ivermectin is said to be effective. But there are still insufficient data for or against the use of Ivermectin for the effective treatment of COVID-19.
Also, there seem to be effective vaccines available to curb the spread of COVID-19 and many countries have authorised the use of some of them, but none, as of now, has the official authorisation of the World Health Organisation. However, promising results have been reported in people already vaccinated. On the other hand, malaria is still without any licensed vaccine, even though appreciable progress has been made in developing vaccines for malaria, in the last 10 years.
In all these, there are surely many differences that can be alluded to, to show that malaria and COVID-19 are really not the same diseases.
It will, therefore, be preposterous of anyone to believe that COVID-19 and malaria are the same or to believe that COVID-19 does not exist. The truth of the matter is that it exists and it is presently raging unabated everywhere in the world. So, it is advisable that we should protect ourselves against it by taking precautionary measures like keeping physical distancing, wearing a mask, cleaning our hands, avoiding crowds, coughing into elbows or tissues and keeping the room well ventilated.
It is also advisable that we stay home and self-isolate if we develop any minor symptoms similar to that of COVID-19, until recovery. If we need to leave our houses or have close contact with anyone, we shouldn’t forget to put on our face-masks.
Most paramount, however, is that we shouldn’t shy away from visiting our doctors and truthfully disclose the symptoms we noticed in ourselves that might suggest COVID-19, or we can call any of the phone numbers provided for COVID-19 assistance for guidance, especially if we have fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.