FACT CHECK: Article Claims Africans Have Genetic Resistance To Coronavirus

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An article shared on Facebook nearly 900 times claims Africans are genetically resistant to the novel 2019 coronavirus.

Verdict: False

Medical experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation that there is no scientific evidence Africans have genetic resistance or immunity to the novel coronavirus.

Fact Check:

As the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, continues to spread, so does misinformation about the disease. In this case, a viral article claims Africans are genetically resistant to the novel respiratory virus.

The article said that 21-year-old Cameroonian student Kem Senou Pavel Daryl’s recovery from COVID-19 helped Chinese doctors make the discovery.

“The Chinese doctors confirmed that Senou stayed alive because of his blood genetic composition which is mainly found in the genetic composition of subsaharan Africans,” the article claims. “Chinese doctors also said that he remained alive because he had black skin, the antibodies of a black are 3 times stronger, powerful and resistant compare (sic) to that of white.”

The 21-year-old student contracted COVID-19 while living in the Chinese city of Jingzhou and suffered from a fever, cough and other flu-like symptoms, according to BBC News.

There is, however, no scientific evidence suggesting that Africans have a better chance of fighting the coronavirus. In fact, a medical epidemiologist and a microbiologist debunked the claim in an email to the DCNF.

“This claim is entirely false,” Washington State University epidemiologist Isaac Ngere said. “No scientific proof that Africans have any immunity to COVID-19 or any coronaviruses.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims Cocaine ‘Kills’ The Coronavirus)

Paul Hunter, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, called the article’s claim that Africans are less genetically susceptible to the coronavirus “absolute rubbish.”

“It is true that in the 2002/2003 SARS epidemic only one case was identified in Africa (South Africa). Also during the 2009 influenza pandemic Africa suffered less than on other continents,” said Hunter. “However, this is more likely to be because of other geographical factors (i.e. generally lower population densities and Africans spend more time out of doors where transmission is less effective than Europeans do, especially in winter). No evidence that any of these factors are down to immunity.”

As of Feb. 27, the WHO has documented at least two cases of COVID-19 in Africa – one in Egypt and one in Algeria. Nigeria confirmed its first case of coronavirus and the first in sub-Saharan Africa in Lagos on Feb. 28, The New York Times reported.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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