Malaria & COVID-19: the backside of the coin
Could it really be that malaria infections protect against COVID-19 as was presented during the ASTMH conference this week? Would there actually be a positive effect of having survived malaria? It makes me think of that one time when malaria almost killed me. I have always been very careful not to get bitten by mosquitoes. But this one time it went very wrong. It was July 1994 when I traveled to Tanzania. Once I got to Zanzibar I felt really sick. I had taken chloroquine as prophylaxis because I refused to take the disputed Lariam (mefloquine). I had actually witnessed somebody going bananas after taking a curative dose of mefloquine, so no thank you. Instantly I realised that I most likely was down with malaria and decided to take Fansidar (sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine) as a cure. Not wise, I realised that too late. By the time I made it to the small hospital in Stone Town, I passed out. The world turned black. Thanks to the great doctor and nurse who got me on a quinine drip, antibiotics and more, I was discharged after a few days. It took me six months to recover and get my strength back. How lucky had I been. But it made me wonder how a vulnerable baby or young child could possibly survive such a devastating malaria attack.
Now you know how I became interested in devoting my life to working on malaria. Back to COVID-19. I will not try my luck this time, but I certainly hope that malaria exposure is linked to a lower risk of COVID-19 infection. Interested to read more about the presentations from ASTMH this week? Then you should read the MESA ASTMH reports. Day 1, 2 and 3 are ready, please see below.
Stay healthy, stay safe and enjoy MalariaWorld!
Founder & Senior Editor MalariaWorld
Director Dutch Malaria Foundation
Today you will not receive a regular MalariaWorld Newsletter. Why? Because I would like to ask your attention for an urgent matter.
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At MalariaWorld we work with partners. One of the advantages of partnering with MalariaWorld is that we use our 20+ years of knowledge, skills, and experience as well as our entire MalariaWorld network to get information across to more than 11.000 malaria professionals in 140 countries. How do we do that? Well, sometimes we just partner for a certain event such as with MIM, PAMCA, or the First Malaria World Congress.
Protect vulnerable children against malaria
We are thrilled to announce our new exciting partnership project "Printed mosquito nets for Uganda"!
On 30 March SciDev.net published an article titled Research colonialism still plagues Africa. In summary it reads: "African researchers are suffering from power dynamics that favour global North collaborators"; and "While some initiatives are helping build local capacity, others undervalue African collaborators."
Yesterday I was reading a very interesting Forum Interview from 1998 with Dr Mohyeddin A. Farid about malaria eradication, titled "The malaria campaign - why not eradication?" where malaria is discussed as a political disease. Dr Farid worked for the World Health Organization from 1949 until his retirement in 1972. Because malaria is intertwined with socioeconomic development he discussed malaria as a political disease and stated that "It is an explosive disease, not a silent one. When epidemics cause too much suffering, the people revolt and can bring about governmental changes...".
A few weeks ago I noticed the announcement of a new conference: the WiM—the Women in Malaria conference. I thought "wow, that's quite something" and expected that it would be some sort of (follow up on the) Women in Vector Control Workshop that the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA) organised just prior to it's 2019 annual conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon. I was truly moved by what happened during that symposium.
On a regular basis I receive the request if MalariaWorld can help 'getting a message across' to malaria professionals around the world. Of course, we can do that.
So often I realise that many of our members, like yourself, who have been with us for years, are not aware of the impact that we can generate for you. We can help you to reach more than 10.700 malaria professionals in 140 countries.
Mr Tony Wilkes MIBiol was a field entomologist at the East African Malaria Institute in Amani, Tanzania (then called Tanganyika), from 1958 to 1964 working on the main vectors of malaria in Africa. Returning to the UK in 1965 he worked on the behaviour of mosquitoes at the University of Sussex’s School of Biology, moving to Imperial College, Silwood Park, Ascot, in 1980, working on sand fly biology and behaviour, and in 1987 to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine working on mosquito biology and control until his retirement in 1995. The obituary below was contributed by Dr. Derek Charlwood.