Scientists Find Past Malaria Infection Reduces Covid Risks as They Puzzle Over Africa’s Continued Low Pandemic Rates

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As scientists and thinkers continue to try to figure out why Africa with less than 6% vaccination rates continues to have negligible Covid impact, latest research out of Uganda suggests past Malaria infection may have a protective effect and reduce the inflammatory response to Covid behind its danger.

Researchers from Japan had earlier suggested that widespread Ivermectin use correlated with low Covid case rates. Now past malaria infection is said to also play a role.

Quoting from an AP article in abcnews on the latest Malaria protective findings:

Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated. For months, the WHO has described Africa as “one of the least affected regions in the world” in its weekly pandemic reports.

Some researchers say the continent’s younger population — the average age is 20 versus about 43 in Western Europe — in addition to their lower rates of urbanization and tendency to spend time outdoors, may have spared it the more lethal effects of the virus so far. Several studies are probing whether there might be other explanations, including genetic reasons or past infection with parasitic diseases.

On Friday, researchers working in Uganda said they found COVID-19 patients with high rates of exposure to malaria were less likely to suffer severe disease or death than people with little history of the disease.

“We went into this project thinking we would see a higher rate of negative outcomes in people with a history of malaria infections because that’s what was seen in patients co-infected with malaria and Ebola,” said Jane Achan, a senior research advisor at the Malaria Consortium and a co-author of the study. “We were actually quite surprised to see the opposite — that malaria may have a protective effect.”

Achan said this may suggest that past infection with malaria could “blunt” the tendency of people’s immune systems to go into overdrive when they are infected with COVID-19. The research was presented Friday at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.