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Is COVID-19 the same as malaria?

Is COVID-19 the same as malaria?

No. COVID-19 and malaria may have similar symptoms but they are very different diseases with different modes of transmission and treatment.

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, and humans become infected by mosquito bites. COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets that we inhale through our nose or our mouth.

Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

COVID-19 and malaria have been incorrectly linked for several reasons. Firstly, around the world, hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, received extensive news coverage because there were claims that the drug was effective against COVID-19. A few clinical trials and studies investigated hydroxychloroquine and found no evidence that the drug was effective against COVID-19. In some unfortunate cases, adverse events occurred in people taking this medication.

Secondly, malaria and COVID-19 share some symptoms, although the list of COVID-19 symptoms currently grows and changes every day. Malaria symptoms usually appear 10-15 days after the infective mosquito bite and the first symptoms a patient feels are fever, headache, and chills. On the other hand, people infected with COVID-19 usually develop symptoms within 5 days and, in some cases, infected people never develop symptoms at all.

Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

Finally, there is a difference between fevers caused by malaria and those caused by COVID-19. Often malarial fevers are cyclical, reoccurring at predictable times based on which strain of malaria was contracted. In comparison, fevers caused by COVID-19 do not appear to occur in cycles. The most common COVID-19 symptoms are: fever, dry cough and tiredness. Less common symptoms include: loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache.

Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

For more information, visit Meedan’s COVID-19 Expert Database: https://learnaboutcovid19.org/

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