Fact Check

Did Chinese Doctors Confirm African People Are Genetically Resistant to Coronavirus?

Misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak seems to have traveled farther than the virus itself.

Published Feb 17, 2020

SHANDONG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 01: (CHINA MAINLAND OUT)Eight doctors and nurses are taking care of patients who has new coronavirus pneumonia in the isolation ward on 01th February, 2020 in Binzhou,Shandong,China.(Photo by TPG/Getty Images) (TPG/Getty Images, file)
Image Via TPG/Getty Images, file
Claim:
Chinese doctors confirmed that African people are "genetically resistant" to new coronavirus.

In early 2020, an outbreak of new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, sparked fears that the virus could cause a pandemic. It also inspired a significant amount of misinformation.

For example, on Feb. 17, 2020, the website Cityscrollz.com falsely reported that a Cameroonian college student studying in China contracted coronavirus but recovered "because of his blood genetic composition which is mainly found in the genetic composition of subsaharan Africans."

If such a claim, that people from African backgrounds are more resistant to coronavirus than others, were true, one would expect it to be a major news story. Instead, it's being reported exclusively in viral social media posts and junk sites. That's because it's not true.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who comes into close contact with someone infected with the coronavirus is at risk for contracting it.

That said, it is true that Kem Senou Pavel Daryl, a 21-year-old Cameroon national studying in China, became ill after contracting coronavirus and was hospitalized. His recovery was not the result of a superior immune system possessed by people hailing from African countries but, according to news reports, rounds of antibiotics and other drugs.

As BBC News reported, Senou recovered after being placed in isolation for 13 days. "The CT scan showed no trace of the illness. He became the first African person known to be infected with the deadly coronavirus and the first to recover. His medical care was covered by the Chinese state."

As of this writing, the coronavirus outbreak has killed 1,770 people in mainland China. Millions of people are currently quarantined in and around Wuhan in an effort to contain the virus. So far, more than 71,000 people have been sickened worldwide. In mid-February, Egypt announced it had the first-reported case in Africa.

Sources

Vincent, Danny.   "Coronavirus: A Cameroon Student on How He Recovered."     BBC News.   17 February 2020.

Le Cadre, Anne-Sophie Faivre.   "Black People Aren’t More Resistant to Novel Coronavirus."     Agence France Presse.   12 February 2020.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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