Health

Making science central in COVID-19 fight’ll dispel myths

Concerned about the wrong signals from numerous myths and misinformation arising from the war against coronavirus pandemic, a medical expert has urged the Federal, state governments and relevant agencies to make scientific evidence the key driver of activities to address COVID-19. An Associate Medical Director for Patient Safety and Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Rotimi Jaiyesimi who made the call, also said leading the fight against COVID-19 with scientific evidence could be actualised through collaborative work and learning from all the experiences of the countries of the world where the pandemic is similarly ravaging.

He spoke during a recent virtual Media Roundtable organised by the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) with the theme: ‘COVID-19 Infection and You’. In his presentation titled ‘COVID- 19 in Nigeria: Knowing The Myths and Facts,’ Jaiyesinmi said accurate reporting was equally important while educating the public on COVID-19 issues. Giving examples of some myths, he said people said Nigeria has a young population; that is why it is not recording a high death rate as it is happening in America, France, Italy and Britain.

“That is not the case. We share similar demography with South Africa – young population and climate as well, but in South Africa you can also see the COVID-19 numbers that exist there. So, we cannot say because Nigeria has a young population that is why death in the country is low. Speaking further, he said some people said COVID-19 is God’s punishment for the world and that until humans change their ways it is not going to go away. “That is not correct,” said Jaiysinmi, adding, “It is a new virus

. Viruses have existed since human beings were around.” Jaiyesinmi said people have alluded that because Nigeria has a hot climate and that it will destroy the virus, “but we do know that Brazil and countries along the tropical line also have the disease.

So, hot climate does not stop the virus.” Highlighting other factors contributing to the growing myths around the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, he said Nigeria has poor reporting data collection and there was distrust between the citizens and the government. According to him, some Nigerians have alluded that the pandemic was a way of making money by government officials and therefore rejected many nonpharmaceutical measures recommended to prevent the infection. However, on what to do to overcome the myths so as to progress in the fight to curb the disease, he said, “It is a new disease.

The fear factor will not dispel the myths, but the war against it should be led by scientific evidence and this will come about through collaborative work. “It will come about by learning from all the countries of the world and most importantly by educating the public including school children.” Similarly, Jaiyesinmi urged the media to hold the state governments accountable because they are the one running the programmes. To the media, he said, “What it should be doing is “education, education and education is what you should be doing and reporting it accurately.

“There is no need in spreading myths about this virus; it doesn’t help anyone.” Also, a professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacokinetics, Chinedum Babalola, while speaking on the topic, ‘Known Local Remedies that may be Useful for COVID-19 and the Need for More Research,’ said there are some bioactive compounds in plants used as spices, vegetables and fruits that could boost the immune system against COVID-19.

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