Coronavirus

  • False: The little boy in yellow is NOT the Covid-19 vaccine inventor.

    Claim: The little boy in yellow is the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine inventor.

    False. The picture as a whole is not the family picture of the Covid-19 vaccine inventor and neither is the little boy in yellow with no shoes Ugur Sahin

    Full text

    A Turkish-German husband-and-wife team of researchers, Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci have taken over many news headlines as pacesetters in the race to invent coronavirus vaccines. 

    Dr. Sahin is the Chief Executive Officer of BioNTech, a German biotech company, which along with its Pfizer partner from the United States, developed the coronavirus vaccine.

    An image, making the rounds on WhatsApp and other social media platforms as seen below claims that the image, a man, woman and four children, is the family portrait of Dr. Ugur Sahin. The text specifically states that the little boy in yellow and wearing no shoes is Dr. Sahin.

    Image source: WhatsApp 

    Verification

    Although the picture does have Turkish roots, it is not the family of Ugur Sahin as the text suggests. 

    The viral image first circulated in 2020 and was debunked by a Turkish International Fact-checking Network (IFCN) signatory fact-checking organisation, Teyin and later in December 2020 by other platforms like Indiatoday.in

    The photo can be found on ArtReview from their March 2017 issue of ArtReview where it is stated that the photo was taken by German photographer Candida Höfer. This is also the case in Artjournal and harvardartmuseums.orgs, exhibition which also links the photo to Höfer.

    According to a Newyork times report, Ugar Sahin is from İskenderun in Turkey. The photo in question, however, is said to be that of a family that immigrated from Aksaray to Düsseldorf, Germany.

    According to DiasporaTürk  on Twitter which is an online community dedicated to collecting and documenting stories relating to Turkish immigrants in Europe, the photo in question is not Sahin’s family picture. According to them, the grandchild of the family in the photo reached out to them and shared stories on how their family migrated to Germany and how the boy in yellow grew to be a lathe-leveling master.

    Image source: DiasporaTurk, Twitter

    Conclusion

    The picture is not that of Dr. Sahin’s family as suggested.

  • Fighting the pandemic and the infodemic: A year of COVID-19 Misinformation in Ghana

    Exactly a year has gone by since the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on 11 March 2020 that the COVID-19 outbreak had officially become a global pandemic. Unfortunately, Ghanaians had very little time to process this information and its implications on their way of life, as the next day, 12 March 2020, the country recorded her first two COVID-19 cases

    The anxiety, uncertainty and quest to unravel this mystery of a novel Coronavirus shifted the pandemic beyond a health crisis to an information crisis which the WHO describes as an infodemic. In view of this, the launch of Dubawa in Ghana on 25 February 2020 has been considered felicitous in its timely contribution to fighting the COVID-19 infodemic that besieged the world jointly with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Ghana’s fight against the pandemic 

    The WHO advised on a number of global COVID-19 transmission and protective measures, many of which the government of Ghana, through periodic updates by the President, instituted. Among the various interventions implemented to help combat the spread of COVID-19, the country went under a partial lockdown to reduce physical movements while fumigating markets centres and institutions. Also, while the government increased the COVID-19 testing capacity to facilitate the case count and identify all infected people for treatment, there were also restrictions on mass gatherings and physical contacts, such as hand-shakes, a compulsory wearing of masks in public places directive, and the washing and sanitizing of hands protocol. 

    During this period, many scientific interventions were also being investigated as some Ghanaian institutions contributed in the capacities that they could. Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and WACCBIP, for example, were among the frontline research centres studying the mutability of the virus in the Ghanaian context while a number of local manufacturers produced hand sanitizers and face masks, face shields and protective gowns to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

    By the end of 2020, there was news of international vaccines that had passed approval from the WHO. Consequently, in February 2021, Ghana received the first consignment of vaccines from the COVAX facility, to facilitate the government’s nation-wide vaccination agenda which started on March 2, 2021 and is currently on-going.

    Dubawa’s fight against the infodemic 

    While governments, scientists and health workers were (and still are) diversely fighting the spread of the virus, fact-checkers have also since the outbreak of the pandemic waded in to fight the spread of misinformation and disinformation to control its effect on the public. By reviewing scientific research, consulting health experts, and using the (non) validation of the WHO and CDC on emerging topics, Dubawa investigated several COVID-19 related claims including conspiracy theories, purported preventive measures, purported cures, the virus’ transmissibility through temperature, second-hand clothing, public transport, sewage systems, and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, the recovery status of COVID-19 patients,  political allegations on the former president and sitting president, and a host of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation – most of which were found to be falsehood stemming from people’s anxiety about the novelty of the virus, their uncertainty about cures, treatment and vaccines, or their sheer mischief to deceive others. 

    Furthermore, collectively, Dubawa and the government of Ghana, cautioned on the dangers of COVID-19 misinformation, as Dubawa provided Ghanaians with verified COVID-19 information as well as basic tips on fact-checking via the Ministry of Information’s press briefing platform. This platform enabled Dubawa to reach a wider Ghanaian audience on both online media  and mainstream media including airing of findings on national television. 

    Retrospectively, as Ghana joins the world to reflect on the eventfulness of the COVID-19 year from the onset of the pandemic till date, concerns are also growing on the emerging implications the present global vaccination agenda brings in relation to the introduction of a vaccine passport. This is a concern which not only anti-vaccine travellers would have to deal with but that fact-checkers too would need to contend with, as new misinformation on the subject occur.

    Latest Fact-checks

    False! Michael Essien did not lose 1 million followers over LGBTQI post 

    In the heat of the many-sided LGBTQI+ discussions in Ghana, popular Ghanaian footballer, Michael Essien, showed his support for the LGBTQI+ community in Ghana in an Instagram post. Many websites, thereafter, claimed that Essien had lost over 1 million followers on Twitter following his show of solidarity on social media with groups demanding equal rights for the LGBTQI+ community in Ghana. However, Dubawa found this claim to be false. Click here for the full fact-check

    Fact-checking Africa Facts Zone’s Claims on Ghana’s Global and African Positioning: A Case of over oversimplification

    A Facebook post by Africa Facts Zone made a number of claims on Ghana’s African and global positioning. It stated that the country has free education and free basic healthcare, and serves as the world’s fastest growing economy in 2019 and 2018, Africa’s third most peaceful country, Africa’s third strongest currency, Africa’s fourth most powerful country, and Africa’s fourth cheapest internet.

    After the indication from the owner of the page IsimaOdeh to Dubawa that the claims were based on basic google research, Dubawa fact-checked the claims and found some to be true and others false. Click here for the full fact-check

    Purported CNN bulletin photo claiming vaccinated COVID-19 patients eat other patients in hospital is fabricated 

    A photo purporting to be a CNN live bulletin claiming that hospitals were on lockdown as the first COVID-19 vaccine patients started eating other patients  was found to be fabricated. Not only was the photo found to be fabricated, but the claims were also found to be untrue as CNN had made no such reports. Read the full fact-check here

    False: NaCCA has not approved Golden Publication’s, English for Basic 4, for distribution or use

    Some Ghanaian Twitter users have been caught in a debate over a textbook purported to be approved by Ghana Education Service (GES) and National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) for teaching Basic school pupils with a method that suggests promoting the association and stereotype of Ewes to the use of juju or vodoo. Dubawa spoke to officials at the Ghana Education Service and the Director-General of the National Council for Curriculum Assessment and found the claim to be false. Read the full fact-check here

    Explainers and Media Literacy Articles 

    1. Dealing With the New Phase Of COVID-19 Infodemic – The Vaccine Misinformation Wave 
    2. Ghana set to begin Covid-19 Vaccination Programme – Dubawa Ghana
    3. The law of ‘double honourable mention’: Becoming a Minister of State in Ghana

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  • Purported CNN bulletin photo claiming vaccinated COVID-19 patients eat other patients in hospital is fabricated

    Claim: A photo purported to be a CNN live bulletin claims that hospitals are on lockdown as first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started eating other patients. 

    False. The photo making the claims is fabricated and has been online since at least February 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic and was in relation to an emergency room of a hospital that had a teenager who was shot. CNN has made no such reports of hospitals on lockdown due to COVID-19 vaccine patients eating other patients.

    Full text

    Following the roll out of COVID-19 vaccination by a number of countries including Ghana to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, a photo of what appears to be a surgical ward with blood spills is circulating on social media in Ghana and elsewhere with an accompanying allegation that hospitals are on lockdown as the first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started eating other patients. This photo is purported to be from a CNN live broadcast. 

    The photo shared by a Ghanaian-based Twitter user, who humorously added that by June we will start fighting zombies, is shown below:

    Verification

    Through a Google Reverse Search, Dubawa uncovered that the photo was originally shared by New York times on February 14th, 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual narrative around the photo tells the tragic shooting of a teenager who later died at the emergency department of Temple University Teaching hospital after efforts to resuscitate him failed. 

    The image was hence, a depiction of the emergency room the teenager died in. 

    The original image as shared by the New York Times on February 14th, 2019

    Though the claimant took nothing out of the photo, it was observed that there was, however, a deliberate effort to alter the image quality so it can perfectly fit into the purported narrative.  Thus, when Dubawa analysed the claimant’s version of the photo on Forensically, results show massive noise proliferation on the image. It was deliberately filtered to be blurry and cloudy so that it can  fit into the fabricated CNN frame. 

    Image 1

    Image 1 shows the result of analysis carried out on the claimant’s purported image.  Assessed on the noise amplitude level of 55% and the Opacity level 0.54%, findings reveal the blurry and hazy shade of noise added to the photo as rather traced in image 2 below. 

    Image 2

    Image 2 shows the results of analysis carried out on the original image. Also assessed on the noise amplitude level of 55% and the Opacity level 0.54%, findings reveal a level of clarity and transparency as compared to image 1. 

    A closer look at image one and two reveals the obvious differences between the two pictures. Even more, other multiple images are taken out of context; and their quality altered just to be forced into another different narrative, such as in this case, to mislead unsuspecting members of the public. 

    Additionally, there is no identified report online of CNN making such claims of a hospital’s lockdown because of alleged first vaccinated COVID-19 patients starting to eat other patients. Rather, what was found, was an application that facilitated such misleading content. The application, Media Photo Frames;  Breaking News App Photo Editor, allows for users of the application to fabricate any story as breaking news to be attributed to the available media frames. 

    Furthermore, the claim making rounds on Ghanaian social media space was found to have also circulated on other platforms across the world in December last year. This has consequently been debunked by several fact-checking platforms such as Times of India,  India Today, and AFP already. 

    Conclusion 

    The photo purporting that first vaccinated COVID-19 patients have started to eat other patients is false. The photo first circulated before the pandemic and is originally from a report in February 2019 showing an emergency department of Temple University Teaching hospital’s attempts to resuscitate a shot teenager. CNN has made no such reports of hospitals on lockdown due to COVID-19 vaccine patients eating other patients .

  • Is the transmission of Covid-19 possible through sewage systems?

    Members of the WhatsApp community have been warned of the risks in contracting the Covid-19 virus through their sewage systems, connected to their homes through bath tubs, toilets and drains.

    This would by extension render even those in isolation and self-confined individuals at risk of contracting the deadly disease.

    The message reads thus:

    Image Source: WhatsApp

    Verification

    Claim 1: Dutch Authorities found the virus in sewage systems.

    Mostly true. Although the Dutch study found the coronavirus within their sewer system, there was no mention of the virus growth and multiplication within the study.

    Verification:

    A study conducted on sewage samples from seven(7) cities and the airport in the Netherlands on the presence of coronavirus in sewage discovered that the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease was present in wastewater. This study was the first report of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage.

    What does finding the virus in sewage mean?

    This means that one or more people in the community likely excreted the virus through urine, faeces or by coughing or sneezing. This is detected through molecular tests such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus via fragments of genetic material (RNA) in wastewater.  

    Claim 2: Covid-19 can be transmitted through exposure to wastewater.

    Insufficient evidence. The WHO says there is no evidence that Covid-19 has been transmitted through sewerage systems. Some studies however suggest transmission may be possible under certain conditions. 

    Verification:

    According to information accessed on March 9th, 2021 on the updated questions and answers section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted through sewerage systems.

    However, some studies, including one by Amoah, Kumari and Bux (2020), found that exposure to untreated wastewater within those two days after viral shedding may lead to potential infections. This study also highlights the potential risk of infection for workers in wastewater treatment facilities and even in the public through faulty plumbing and bursting of sewer networks.

    People who work with sewage have therefore been advised to avoid direct contact with sewage and to avoid ingesting, swallowing, or inhaling spray or mist from the water as it contains various pathogens.

    Claim 3:  Covid-19 in sewerage systems can be curbed by pouring bleach into drains and other sewage outlets.

    Insufficient evidence. High concentrations of disinfectants in wastewater can destroy the coronavirus because of the fragile outer membrane of the virus. Research however indicates that doing so  may jeopardize scientific research and affect the treatment plants. 

    Verification:

    Many chemical disinfectants like bleach work against the novel coronavirus, but it is important to use them properly and never ingest them or apply them to your skin.

    The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization recommend using a bleach solution as a way to disinfect areas contaminated with the novel coronavirus. It is however unclear whether the use of bleach in drains and toilets can completely eradicate the virus. Studies indicate that wastewater treatment processes can inactivate the virus in the wastewater but this is mostly on a larger scale. Individually, disinfectants used in home drains can support removal of the virus from the direct tubes and drains but reports also suggests that  the use of bleach may also cause a stall in scientific research on the virus as bleach will kill the ribonucleic acid(RNA) of the virus. 

    Can wastewater find its way into your home?

    Yes. Waste material can find its way into homes. This is called a sewer backup; this happens when water is pushed back into homes through pipes from the sewer or drainage systems. Backups can be caused by clogging or blockage of a city’s mains or a building’s plumbing system , old sewer systems etc. For instance, flushing materials like diapers or sanitary towels in toilet bowls has the potential of causing a blockage and possibly a backup. 

    This occurrence is potentially dangerous as it can cause infections or diseases because it lets off air-borne contaminants as well as physical contaminants. The inhalation of the vapors alone is dangerous as toxins are released into the air. Additionally, some diseases can be caused from bacteria, viruses and parasites that may surface because of sewer backups like salmonellosis, gastroenteritis, threadworm infection, hookworm infections among others. Proper maintenance of the sewage system is necessary to avoid such incidents. 

  • Ghana set to begin Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

    On Wednesday 24 February 2021 the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana. According to the Ministry of Information, 600,000 doses of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India (Covishield) was delivered to the government of Ghana, where deployment of the vaccines is scheduled to start on March 2, 2021 among the segmented population in the country.

    A week prior to this, on Friday, 19 February 2021, the Ministry of Information moderated a public engagement on the government of Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccination roll out plan.

    According to Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, the Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service, the vaccine deployment which will be staggered in three phases is based on the assumption that the global supply will span a long period. In view of this, the strategy has groupings for the deployment from March to October 2021. 

    Group 1 are considered people at most risk and includes health care workers, frontline security personnel, persons with underlying health conditions, 60 and above persons, and frontline members of the executive, legislative and judiciary. 

    Group 2 includes the rest of the executive, legislative and judiciary, other essential service providers such as rest of security agencies, water supply agencies, electricity supply services, teachers and students, supply and distribution of fuels, farmers and food value chain, telecommunication services, air traffic and civil aviation services, meteorological services, air transport services, waste management services, media, public and private commercial transport services, the police service, the Armed Forces, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, National Fire Service, and the CEPS division of the rest of Ghana Revenue Authority.

    Group 3 includes rest of the general public (all persons 18 years and above excluding pregnant women)

    Group 4 includes pregnant women and persons under 18 years when an approved vaccine for this group is found. 

    Also, for all such persons considered, the vaccines will be deployed either via outreach, mobile, static, campout or a combination of all. More specifically, the following strategies will be deployed for the following groups as shown below:

    Target groupsPotential delivery strategyPotential vaccination sites
    Health workersFixed sitesHealth centres, hospitals (public and private)
    60+ personsFixed and outreach sites Temporary/ mobile clinicsMass campaignsHealth centres, hospitals, outreach points, pharmacies, marketplace and other public places, drive-through 
    Persons with underlying medical conditions Fixed sites and outreach sitesTemporary/mobile clinicsPrimary health care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, workplaces, through mobile teams for those confined at home, other public and private establishments 
    Other target groups Fixed site and outreach sitesTemporary / mobile clinics Mass campaigns Any of above plus special strategies to reach specialised population groups 
    Source: Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Ghana Health Service 

    Additionally, the regions mapped out for the administering of the initial doses are ‘Greater Accra metro’ and ‘Greater Ashanti metro’ with ‘Western’ to follow next. This is based on the regional active cases and cumulative cases of COVID-19 over the period of March 2020 to February 2021 which showed these segmented regions to have recorded the highest cases in the country.

    On account of the task ahead, Dr. Amponsa-Achiano added that there will be a deployment of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds of vaccination campaign. Training for the vaccination team will be restricted to smaller groups of both virtual and in-person practical approaches. To ensure vaccine safety, there will also be active and passive surveillance during and post campaign.

    Also, he stated that to be considered fully vaccinated in Ghana, one is required to have two doses of the vaccines.

    Conclusion:

    It is expected that public engagement on the COVID-19 vaccination roll out plan will be held periodically by the appropriate institutions in order to continually address outstanding concerns of citizens and convey government’s intentions on vaccination concurrently especially as the first consignment of vaccines have already arrived in the country. By so doing, it also equally immunizes the Ghanaian community against any potential vaccination misconception and misinformation. 

    Till then, for the minds still battling with vaccine hesitancy, as Dr. Yaw Bediako, an Immunologist and Research fellow at WACCBIP, assured, vaccines, are simple, safe, and effective as they:

    1. protect people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them. 

    2. use the body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and make the immune system stronger.

  • Handle With Care: Your Mask Is A Potential Covid-19 Infection Hub!

    Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the wearing of masks and other protective protocols have been imposed on citizens in the various countries affected by the virus. 

    This is the case in Ghana as well and much more so now that figures of daily infections have risen exponentially with the country’s active case count reaching 8216 by February 10 as reported by the Ghana Health Service.

    Source: Ghana Health Service (Twitter)

    However, although more people are taking the wearing of masks more seriously, as stated during the Live Press Briefing on February 9th 2021, there isn’t much regard for the directives regarding the use of the mask and care during and after the use of the mask.

    First, it is important to note that the mask is only part of a more comprehensive strategy to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. It is not the sole requirement and must, as such, be used with the other measures like frequent hand washing with soap, the use of sanitizers in the absence of water and soap, physical distancing, coughing or sneezing into the elbows  among others.

    Some issues identified with the use of masks in Ghana

    • Disposal of masks

    A fair number of  Ghanaians do wear their masks  but what is worrying is the way the masks are handled as the risks associated with improper handling of masks are grossly underestimated.  As an occasional commuter,  I have come across individuals who keep on damaged and defaced disposable masks, disregarding the disposability of the product.

    I have observed drivers of public transport take off and hang their masks on their rear view mirrors, put it back on with no regard for where their hands have been and repeat the process over and over again.

    Medical masks are to be disposed of after use or once damaged. 

    • Familiarisation with mask users

    Another issue is regarding certain individuals as safe. For people who share spaces, like families and co-workers, there is the tendency to overlook certain cautions as there is likely a familiarisation or sharing system in place. I have personally caught myself reaching to take my mother’s mask or basically any mask at home because I am feeling lazy or need to dash out quickly. This is absolutely risky as it is impossible to know what that mask has come contact with. Familiarisation should be cut out when handling masks or other protective items especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • Disregard for severity of the need for caution

    While it is important to keep our masks on at all times when in public, it is almost impossible to do so during the entirety of the wearing period. Therefore, the state of one’s hands before and after putting on the mask, removing or adjusting the mask could save the wearer from potential infection. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that people are to ensure hands are clean before picking up and wearing the mask.  There can be a transfer of the virus from your hand to the mask or from the mask onto your hand. It is that technical.

    Likewise, during the period in which the mask is worn, there is the possibility of the mask sliding down while laughing or talking and this may require readjustment. It is almost automatic to quickly adjust it and go back to whatever was occupying the individual’s time but  hands need to be disinfected prior to doing that. This is because the virus, if on the surface of the mask, can be transferred from the mask to your hand and consequently to other things like your phone, bag, hair etc.

    This also applies to aftercare once reaching a safe space. It is important to wash hands or sanitize immediately after taking your mask off and disposing it. 

    As the virus cannot be seen with the naked eye, it is impossible to know when you come into contact with someone who has the virus or something, like a surface, on which the virus has settled. (It is safe to say that being a germaphobe is allowed now😅)

    It is important to note that masks are not antiviral and do not kill the coronavirus.

    WHO guidelines on masks usage

    Since the how of wearing medical masks and cloth masks have been established, focus needs to be drawn to other factors associated with its use, such as storage, cleaning and disposal. The World Health Organisation(WHO) has listed the following as guidelines for the use of masks:

    • Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
    • Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin. 
    • When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
    • Don’t use masks with valves.
  • Yes, studies support possibility of temperature as factor in transmission and spread of Covid-19

    Claim: Temperature and enclosed spaces affect the transmission of coronavirus.

    Mostly True. Although some literature supports the claim that temperature can affect the reduction or increase in coronavirus transmission, a lot is still yet to be proven in this regard.

    Full Text

    As the coronavirus began working its way through countries, many myths and theories were spread about the virus. Some of these claimed that eating garlic could kill the virus; that consuming hot peppery soups could prevent the virus, and a host of others. Most of these claims were later found to be false.

    A very prominent theory that circulated and had some countries at ease when the pandemic started was that the Covid-19 virus could not survive or spread in a hot or sunny climate.

    A tweet by a radio personality seems to have revived the conversation.

    “So last year, who ankasa come lie we say covid-19 no go catch Africans cos here hot.”

    The post has since generated many comments on the platform.

    A video of a former deputy Health Minister, Dr. Okoe Boye during an interview, stating some hypothesis on how temperature can affect the spread and intensity of Covid-19, was shown as evidence to support the claim. 

    But does temperature really affect the spread of the Covid-19?

    Video Transcript

    “There are two main things and remember we are still studying the virus so most of the claims are hypothetical not empirical from established studies. But there are two observations that have been made strongly that facilitates spread and even intensity of disease.

    The first one being the temperature, cold climate. That is why in most countries they predicted that they might have a second wave in the winter.”

    Verification

    The comments on Twitter seemed to give the impression that the video in question was from last year. Although similar claims were made last year, the video showing of Dr Boye is recent.

    A longer version of the video showed that the excerpt came from CitiTV’s The Big Issue which aired on January 17th, 2021.

    The discussion that brought out Okoe Boye’s statement was in line with the reopening of schools and risks associated with it.

    Transcript

    Interviewer:

    “You made a point about concentration of particles in enclosed spaces. Fortunately, a lot of our schools are not under trees. Perhaps these are one of the instances where we can be happy about schools under trees but fortunately or unfortunately we don’t have instances where we have schools under trees. A lot of the schools, a huge majority are enclosed. What is the government’s plan? What are the measures put in place by the government to ensure that should any of the kids or students have it; I mean be it asymptomatic or not, given that they are in an enclosed space, this will not degenerate, the infection rate will not go up or that person will not infect a lot of their colleges.”

    Okoe Boye:

    “There are two main things and remember we are still studying the virus so most of the claims are hypothetical not empirical from established studies. But there are two observations that have been made strongly that facilitates spread and even intensity of disease.

    The first one being the temperature, cold climate. That is why in most countries they predicted that they might have a second wave in the winter.  The second one is an enclosed, If the structure of your community enclosed type, the rate of transmission is higher. And what do i mean by the closed type? If you go to Europe, most markets, if you want to go and buy, it’s not an open market like Agbogbloshi or makola where… you go to an enclosed space…  Luckily, how many schools”

    Two claims were deduced from Dr Boye’s response:

    1. Enclosed spaces promote the spread of Covid-19
    2. Temperature affects spread and intensity of disease

    Are there existing hypothetical studies to support Okoe Boye’s claims?

    Yes.

    A study by  Peng Shi, Yinqiao Dong, Huanchang Yan, Xiaoyang Li, Chenkai Zhao, Wei Liu, Miao He, Shixing Tang and Shuhua Xi titled, The impact of temperature and absolute humidity on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – evidence from China, investigated the impact of temperature and absolute humidity on the Covid-19 outbreak in 31 provincial-level regions in mainland China. Data was gathered between January 20th and February 29th, 2020. Findings revealed that the lowest daily incidence of the coronavirus was at -10 °C and highest at 10 °C. COVID-19 incidence changed with temperature as daily incidence decreased when the temperature rose. Also, a modified susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (M-SEIR) model confirmed that transmission rate decreased with the increase of temperature, leading to further decrease of infection rate and outbreak scale.

    These findings were similar to Mecenas et al’s (2020) study, Effects of temperature and humidity on the spread of COVID-19: A systematic review and Wu et al’s (2020), Effects of temperature and humidity on the daily new cases and new deaths of COVID-19 in 166 countries and many others who also report positive decrease in transmission with increased temperature.

    However, the World Health Organization(WHO), has stated firmly that there is currently no conclusive evidence that either weather or climate have a strong impact on transmission of the virus. This is proven in the fact that the disease has been transmitted in all regions of the world, from dry, cold, hot or humid climates.

    With regards to enclosed spaces increasing risk of infection, studies also exist to support this.

    Bhagat et al in their 2020 study, Effects of ventilation on the indoor spread of COVID-19,  found that existing data indicates that indoor transmission of the virus far exceeds outdoor transmission. This, the study indicates may be due to longer exposure times and the decreased turbulence levels (and therefore dispersion) found indoors. This suggests that indoor or enclosed spaces do have the tendency to increase transmission of the coronavirus. 

    This is supported in another study that suggests that it is very critical to prevent overcrowding and to also allow adequate ventilation and filtration of circulating air in buildings to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus. This suggestion is made in the study, Understanding of Aerosol Transmission of COVID 19 in Indoor Environments, by Barro et al (2020). 

    Additionally, respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes and person-to-person close contact are some of the main modes of transmission identified. This could account for enclosed spaces being sources of infection in some way.

    The case of Ghana

    Ghana has recorded a relatively high number of Covid-19 cases regardless of the high temperatures experienced here. But has the temperature supported the moderately better record of deaths and confirmed cases in comparison to countries with colder temperatures?

    According to endcoronavirus.org, some of the countries that are beating coronavirus are Australia, the Bahamas, Brunei, Djibouti, Iceland among others while Burkina Faso, Chile and Canada are at the other end of the stick.  These countries range from hot to cold climates on both sides of the coin. Canada for instance is currently -11°C while Burkina Faso is at 37°C and yet, both countries are considered countries not doing well in battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Same can be said for Iceland which presently records a temperature of -3°C and Djibouti with its 29°C and yet both are tagged as countries beating the coronavirus.

    It is, therefore, clear that there is more to the spread of the virus as rightly stated by the WHO and many other health organisations and studies.

    Conclusion

    Okoe Boye is not off in his claims regarding temperature and enclosed spaces as the preceding studies suggest. Boye also provided a caveat in his statement that suggests that he may be wrong as the claims he made are based on theoretical studies, making the claim to merit a mostly true  status.

  • Erectile Dysfunction, A COVID-19 Complication? Here’s What We Know

    Claim: Some COVID-19-recovered male patients experience erectile dysfunction as a complication.

    Mostly true. The Ghana Medical Association states erectile dysfunction as complaints from a lot of recovered COVID-19 male patients. This is also corroborated by research and reports from other parts of the world that attempt to prove this claim to be so. However, neither the WHO nor CDC has established the symptom to be a COVID-19 complication as yet. The Ghana Health Service is also yet to confirm and establish the correlation through extensive research.  

    Full text

    The conversation on recovered COVID-19 victims having possible short-term or long-term health complications has been revisited on Ghana’s media space, with a recent news report stating that some recovered COVID-19 male patients are experiencing erectile dysfunction

    Interestingly, the focus of the conversation surrounding the news report this time, is not so much of whether COVID-19 patients ‘truly’ recover as it is whether this could be employed as a media gimmick to sway people from further spreading the virus and control the surge in cases. Some social media users, however, have disproved the news report by stating that they have had no such complication of an erectile dysfunction after recovery, while others have questioned why other continents have not reported on it and expressed how this is a sheer obsession of Africans with amplifying sex-related discussions.

    Nonetheless, as noted by some fairly-informed commentators, erectile dysfunction as a possible COVID-19 complication is not only ‘an African thing’, neither is it the only complication that is expected to be experienced by every recovered patient.

    Verification

    In the Starr FM and JoyOnline news reports that have set the agenda for the conversation, the information was disclosed by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA). It is noteworthy that in the news reports, the Vice President of the GMA, Dr. Frank Serebour, stated that there are nation-wide complaints from a lot of recovered patients about experiencing post-recovery erectile dysfunction requiring attention and  treatment. 

    The news reports added that further enquiries from the Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Emmanuel Tenkorang, also shows that the correlation between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19 pertaining to Ghana is yet to be confirmed and established through research and empirical data.

    Notwithstanding, research and reports from across the world show that medical professionals are facing similar observations of erectile dysfunction as a possible COVID-19 complication.

    For example, in a NBC LX news report in Chicago, United States, which was also similarly reported by DW in Germany, an infectious disease expert, Dr. Dena Grayson, cautioned on how a mild case of the virus has potential of causing long-term complications including erectile dysfunction. She explained that this is because the virus affects tissues in the vasculature.

    Similarly, the reports showed that the link between COVID-19 and the male reproductive system may be caused by the damage to the vascular and respiratory systems of COVID-19 patients.

    Furthermore, a study, ‘Addressing male sexual and reproductive health in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak’, published in 2020 in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, found evidence of the potential of the onset of Erectile Dysfunction as a COVID-19 complication by reviewing several similar studies conducted on male COVID-19 recovered patients in the United States, Asia, and Europe. 

    The study explained this as follows:

    “It is well established that ACE2 is the entry point for the SARS-CoV-2 in host cells. In males, adult Leydig cells express this enzyme, therefore, suggesting that testicular damage can occur following infection . Testicular damage in COVID-19 might, therefore, induce a state of hypogonadism as proven by decreased testosterone-to-LH ratio in patients with COVID-19, suggestive of impaired steroidogenesis resulting from subclinical testicular dysfunction. Post-mortem examinations of testicular tissue from 12 COVID-19 patients showed significantly reduced Leydig cells, as well as edema and inflammation in the interstitium. A recent report on 31 male COVID-19 patients in Italy identified that some patients developed hypergonadotropic hypogonadism following the onset of the disease. In the same study, lower levels of serum testosterone (total and free) acted as predictors of poor prognosis in SARS-CoV-2 men. Whether this state of hypogonadism is permanent or temporary is a question so far left unanswered. Testosterone acts as a modulator for endothelial function and suppresses inflammation by increasing levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (such as IL-10) and reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β. It can, therefore, be hypothesized that suppression of testosterone levels might be one of the reasons for the large difference in terms of mortality and hospitalization rate between males and females and might also explain why SARS-CoV-2 most commonly infects old men

    Consequently, the study recommended the need for assessment and treatment to be followed up on this finding. 

    Photo Source: NCBI

    However, we find that neither the World Health Organisation nor the Centre for Disease Control  has listed erectile dysfunction (or general effects on sexual reproductive system) as a confirmed COVID-19 complication as yet, in spite of evidence from available research from medical experts across the world and complaints from  many affected recovered male patients about erectile dysfunction. 

    Conclusion

    The claims by the Ghana Medical Association that recovered COVID-19 patients are experiencing erectile dysfunction are not unfounded. This is derived from the complaints of a lot of recovered patients across the country. Furthermore, news reports and research across the world also give evidence to link between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19 infections in males. However, the Ghana Health Service is yet to confirm and establish erectile dysfunction as a COVID-19 complication, just as the WHO or CDC has not listed erectile dysfunction as a COVID-19 complication yet. It is premature to declare this claim false or true, until there is an update from the WHO on links between Covid-19 infected males and erectile dysfunction.

  • Dealing With the New Phase Of COVID-19 Infodemic – The Vaccine Misinformation Wave

    The concerted efforts by scientists and medical experts across the world in rolling out vaccines for COVID-19 has been met with skeptical attacks. Conspiracy theories, misinformation and public apprehensions are among the skepticism restraining undiscerning audiences from getting vaccinated, given the adverse consequences purported to be associated with COVID-19 vaccines. And yet again, fact-checkers are having to war against the verbal missiles threatening the possible end of the pandemic – vaccine infomedic – that have plagued both social and traditional media spaces across the world. The vaccine misinformation has circulated in varied forms and upon access to them Dubawa has verified them accordingly. 

    At the onset of the pandemic, there seemed to be widespread and welcoming news of the discovery of purported vaccines, which however all turned out to be false. The alleged discovery of vaccines was found to be so welcoming that political figures were associated with the claims, perhaps to give the claims more weight. This was evidenced in a claim made against former American president, Donald Trump, alleged to have announced a new vaccine, which was found to be false. 

    Nonetheless, we found some political actors themselves such as Russian president, Vladimir Putin, misinforming the public and making claims on the approval of a new vaccine, which was  found to be false and misleading.

    Thereafter, the mischievous excitement with the alleged discovery of vaccines waned as  skeptics dominated the vaccine narratives and switched to pitching vaccines against Africans. One of these claims was alleged to be from Barack Obama, dissuading Africans from getting vaccinated, found to be false. Then came another claiming the COVID-19 vaccines are intended to depopulate and eliminate Africans, which was also found to be false. And another claim stating that the vaccine Remdesivir has been restricted to only Africans in order to produce genetically modified human beings was also false.

    It was also observed that the vaccine infodemic was not only a racial issue as claims against religious groups were also included. Conspiracy theories that were rampant on the onset included one purporting that Bill Gates was involved in a vaccine presentation to the CIA that was meant to control the central brain of religious fanatics, and was yet found to be false. 

    It was not until the actual recent discovery of vaccines by some pharmaceutical companies that the false narrative of side effects and medium of administering the vaccines started being pushed strongly across media spaces, all of which were again, found to be false. Oblivious to what the obsession and association with penis-related COVID-19 discussion was, Dubawa found penis enlargement and injection of the vaccine through the penis to be the false side effects and medium of administering the vaccine, respectively, being circulated. 

    Some COVID-19 treatment drugs such as Covifor were also being falsely circulated as vaccines. 

    Nonetheless, among the many purported availability of vaccines, Moderna was confirmed to be effective against the virus and awaiting final approval, and, the only approved WHO recommended vaccine thus far is Comirnaty. 

    It is again verified that claims stating Bill Gates has said no mass gatherings until everyone is vaccinated is false, and among the many false claims convincing people that the vaccine is mandatory for everyone. 

    While concerns and apprehensions about COVID-19 vaccines are valid and well expected for a new virus, it is no justification to incite public unrest by misinforming others with one’s perceived knowledge and uncertainties. When unsure, one is expected to simply verify from authorised sources before sharing. 

  • Video claiming COVID-19 vaccines weaponised to depopulate the world, eliminate Africans false

    Claim: A viral video clip claims vaccines are targeted at eliminating Africans.

    The claim that vaccines are meant to eliminate Africans is false and the statement on vaccines is not related to COVID-19 vaccines. 

    Full Text

    With the growing spread of misinformation and different theories surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in relation to Africa, a 30-second video going viral on social media claims there is a plan to eliminate Africans through vaccines.

    In the video, a witness named Dr Robert O. Young who was answering questions from a set of panellists said there were too many people in the world and there was the need to get rid of them starting off in Africa.

    “For the purpose of sterilization and population control, there is too many people on the planet we need to get rid off in the words of Bill Gate, at least 3billion people need to die. So we will just start off in Africa. We will start doing our research there and we will eliminate most of the Africans because they are deplorable, they are worthless, they are not part of this world economy so they have their rights taken away and they are surpressed and experimented”

    Excerpt of Dr Robert’s statement.

    Screenshot of the viral video.

    Verification

    Dubawa researched the witness (Dr Robert O. Young) in the video and discovered that Dr Young is an American naturopathic practitioner and author of alternative medicine books. 

    Dubawa also conducted a Google reverse image search with screenshots of the video which led to a report on January 13, 2021, by Everyday.ng

    Screenshot of Everyday’s report.

    According to this report, the video was filmed at the International Tribunal of Natural Justice (ITNJ) sittings in Bali, Indonesia at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Weaponization of the Biosphere in June 2019.

    The video has, however, been gaining traction since emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination. 

    This report led us to the ITNJ website where we saw different clips of this sitting from different days without finding Dr Young’s statement. 

    Screenshot of ITNJ’s website.

    The 10-minute clip of Day one covered the opening introduction of the Bali sitting in June 2019.

    Screenshot of Day 1 sitting on ITNJ’s website.

    Day two clip covered ITNJ Trustee Emeritus, Sacha Stone, giving a speech.

    Screenshot of Day 2 sitting on ITNJ’s website.

    The link available on the site for the full clip of the seating led to a YouTube video that could not be accessed.

    Screenshot of Youtube page with the private video.

    Dubawa then went ahead to search for Dr Young’s testimony at the ball seating. Dubawa found a Youtube video of one hour and 38 minutes  that contained Dr. Robert O Young’s testimony.

    Screenshot of the Youtube video containing Dr Young’s testimony.

    The video was posted on Youtube with a short summary that explained that Dr Young’s statement provides the how and why the state department put him out of business and in jail because of his natural treatment to cure cancer. 

    Going through the video, Dubawa learnt Dr Young was trying to make the point that the different vaccines given to children in the first six years of their life, from the measles vaccine to the polio vaccine are more poisonous than helpful. 

    The short clip going viral was trimmed out of the full testimony towards the end of the video, where Dr Young quoting Bill Gate, said these vaccines are meant to kill and reduce the world population. It is, however, noteworthy to note that the claim on depopulation by Dr Young accredited to Bill Gate has been debunked.

    While the statement in the viral clip is true and taken from the original full video of Dr Young’s testimony, it is not related to COVID-19 vaccines.

    Conclusion

    Dubawa’s findings show that while it is true that Dr Young made such a statement in an original video from the ITNJ seating, his statement was taken out of context as his statement and the seating have no relation with COVID-19. The time of this seating also discredits this video’s connection to COVID-19 which happened 5 months before COVID-19 broke out in December 2019. This makes the claim false and misleading.

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