The task of introducing a vaccine for the coronavirus faces an uphill struggle in Africa, where a flood of online misinformation is feeding on mistrust of Western medical research. Across the continent, Facebook, WhatsApp and other platforms have been swamped by messaging that characterises vaccine research as harmful or even part of a plot to kill black people.
The world’s poorest continent—and the most vulnerable to the disease, given its poor health infrastructure—Africa has recorded more than 48,000 Covid-19 cases, 1,900 of which have been fatal, according to an AFP tally as of Wednesday. The toll is below that of other continents, although the true figure may be considerably higher, given the lack of access to testing. The absence of a cure has sparked a flurry of claims for purported remedies.