The disinformation around COVID-19 is not exclusively the domain of superpowers such as China and Russia, nor is it an issue known only in our culture. As it turns out, fake news, gossip, plain lies but also the disinformation on a state level are in the case of coronavirus pandemic also present in Africa.
In the previous part we described the cases of blatant disinformation and problems with fake news in some African countries. As it turns out, there are many other cases. Some narratives described by the experts from American The Bulletin are similar to those known from Europe, however there are also others, which can surprise.
- A poll conducted in April showed that 28% of Nigerians think they are resistant to COVID-19. The respondents justified it with religion, own preventive measures or myths about alleged resistance of black people to COVID-19.
- In Uganda the rumours have spread that the authorities forbid sex in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
- Another narrative touched the subject of the alleged “secret war” between Africa and widely understood West. Internet fake news stated for example that such countries as Lesotho or Tanzania invented the vaccine or a treatment for COVID-19 earlier than the US.
- On Madagascar one of the most visible case of disinformation touched the subject of the Covid-Organics beverage. The President of this country Andry Rajoelina presented in April the sweel wormwood (artemisia annua) brew as alleged medicine for the coronavirus. He also stated that thanks to it, it was possible to cure the Madagascar’s citizens. Rajeolina was seen with the bottle on press conferences and official events.
However, it is worth noticing that, in fact, there are some ongoing research to use the wormwood extract to treat hard cases of COVID-19. According to interia.pl’s article from September, “scientists from Germany, Denmark and Hongkong rapports about the efficacity of the sweet wormwood extract in the treatment of acute respiratory system caused by the coronavirus”. Additionally, the World Health Organization approved the protocol of testing the African herbal medicine as potential methods of treatment of COVID-19. On the other hand, it is not all in the subject of Covid-Organics. The disinformation narratives about the beverage included such fantastic statement as accusations towards the WHO of attempt to bribe the president Rajoelina to poison the beverage. Other fake news said that the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin admitted “ordering millions of Covid-Organics bottles for Russian citizens”. None of this happened.
Many stories spread in Africa were meant to prove that the Africans were going to be laboratory rats for Western pharmaceutical companies. One of wide-spread posts stated that in Senegal seven children died because of vaccination trials.
Similarly to Europe, there was much fake news about the 5G technology. Additionally to fakes well-known in Poland, in Africa people was additionally threatened with infertility.
Source: The Bulletin, interia.pl, Euractiv.pl