By Jana-Astrid Schäfer and Fatoumata Njei
ZüRICH, June 9, 2020 – One of Africa’s prominent infectious diseases expert from Liberia, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan of Shufflex Biomed has postulated that many African countries including Liberia could be “going through a stage of Herd Immunity at this point of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the continent.” Dr. Nyan made the statement recently during his presentation to faculty and staff at the Rowan University Rowan College’s Division of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in New Jersey, the USA.
Meanwhile at the end of the presentation, the Dr. Dean of the Science and Technology College, Dr. Edem Tetteh has extended a second invitation to Dr. Nyan to lectured on the COVID-19 pandemic at the prominent Science-based US national University where he [Dr. Nyan] spoke on the COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Liberia and other African countries.
“We want you [Dr. Nyan] to come back, if you don’t mind, to speak to us again in a larger auditorium when most of the students are back on campus after the lockdown,” Dr. Tetteh, the Science Dean said, adding that the presentation was very brilliant.
Responding to questions from the faculty as to why Africa is not experiencing high death rate, Dr. Nyan said, “we don’t know exactly, because this virus is new; but, Africa has prior experiences dealing with other outbreaks such as Ebola, Cholera, Lassa, etc. and the lockdown did help control the spread.”
He mentioned that “there may be a huge number of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers within the highly youthful African population that are transmitting the infection from person-to-person without visible clinical symptoms that requires hospitalization; and this could be conferring some sort of immunity in the population as a herd-protection,” adding that “studies need to be done using mass serological testing to determine IgG levels in the blood and how long such immunity would last.”
Regarding asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers and transmission, a recent research findings published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that as many as 40-45% of COVID-19 cases may be asymptomatic, will remain in this SARS-CoV-2 infectious state, and might have greater potential to spread the infection silently and pervasively through the human populations.
A University of Berlin trained medical doctor, Dr. Nyan emphasized that, “this asymptomatic transmission is coupled with Africa’s youthful population that appears to be less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, as compared to the high percentage of older population of Italy (for example with underlying conditions) that were apparently more susceptible and succumbed to COVID-19.” According to blogs.workdbank.com, in about 40 African countries, more that 50% of the population is under the age of 20 compared to that in about 30 selected richer countries where less than 20% of the population is under the age of 20.
Dr. Nyan said “other factors could be responsible for why Africa is not seeing lots of deaths as compared to Europe, America, Asia, and South America, and that needs to be studied” adding that “although in view of the severe challenges with testing in Africa, we may not know the actual number of infected persons as there could be more asymptomatic infected persons in Africa than is reported.”
Asked whether the government of Liberia has given any stimulus package to the people, Dr. Nyan, an NIH-trained infectious diseases scientist said “as far as I know, the government of Liberia has not given the people any relief package to date. But, individuals, Diaspora organizations, and local business entities have been assisting the population with food and some basic necessities.” He said that Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, and few African governments provided relief packages for their citizens, while Dean Edem Tetteh added that in Togo government provided stimulus for the most needed sector of the population.
Rowan University is a public science research institution with a medical campus in Stratford, New Jersey, and medical and academic campuses in Camden, New Jersey. The University’s Rowan College at Burlington County Campus is located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. New Jersey was one of the high-hit States with the COVID-19 pandemic in the US that is now beginning to relax it regulations.
Dr. Nyan is the inventor of the US patented multiplex test for infectious diseases which detects and identifies Coronaviruses, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis virus, Ebola, Zika, Dengue and many more. He testified before the US Congress in September 2014 on the Ebola outbreak. He is the winner of the 2017 African Innovation Award Special Prize for Social Impact for his invention. During this COVID-19 Pandemic, Dr. Nyan has provided extensive pandemic response awareness to the population and expert advised on public health regulatory measures directly and via radio and television in African countries including Liberia.
Main Photo: Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, M.D., Infectious Disease Scientist, Photo: AIF Award