COVID-19 spread patterns is unrelated to malaria co-infections in Lagos, Nigeria


Malaria and COVID-19, though caused by different organisms, share a significant number of symptoms like fever, headaches, difficulty in breathing and fatigue. Therefore, determining if a patient is positive for COVID-19 or Malaria based on symptoms alone, might be misleading, especially during pandemic response. It has been reported that an individual begins to manifest Malaria symptoms between 10 - 15 days after infection with malaria parasite, although some individuals may be asymptomatic. Some COVID-19 infected patients, like Malaria, are also asymptomatic but could contribute to transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus. These similarities in symptoms have led to misconception about COVID-19 being real and misdiagnoses of both infections, especially in Nigeria. However, there are possibilities that Malaria and COVID-19 could co-exist in some individuals thereby leading to mismanagement and treatment of only one infection while neglecting the possibility of the patient being infected with both diseases. We aim to determine possible correlation between Malaria and COVID-19 in a Malaria endemic country like Nigeria. This study was carried out using the qPCR molecular testing approach, a gold standard for COVID-19 testing and rapid diagnostic test kits to detect Malaria parasites in 617 individuals residing in urban settings. We demonstrated that COVID-19 and Malaria infection amongst adults in urban settings are unrelated thereby focusing on symptoms alone may result in misdiagnosis. Our findings show that Malaria is not among the underlying medical conditions strongly associated with increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness amongst adults in urban settings.

Advances in Infectious Diseases 2020; 10:200-215