The Member of Parliament for Juabaso Constituency and member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) COVID-19 team, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, claimed in a discussion on Joy Prime on Friday May 22, 2020, that being asymptomatic as a COVID-19 victim means one is ‘autoimmune’ and does not require any special treatment to recover.
Fact-checkghana.com looked into this claim and found it to be completely false.
Explanation: According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana as at June 7, 2020 had confirmed 9,638 COVID-19 cases with 3,636 recoveries and 44 deaths. According to the government, majority of the COVID-19 victims in the country are asymptomatic.
We obtained the video footage and transcribed Mr. Akandoh’s comments as follows:
[1 hour 33 minutes]
“When somebody is not showing signs but then is carrying the virus, what it means is that automatically, without giving the person any medicine, the person will heal. That is what we call autoimmune system,” he stated.
The claim by Kwabena Mintah Akandoh bothers on the definition of two terms; asymptomatic and autoimmune, and whether there is any relationship between the two.
In view of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines being asymptomatic as not showing any sign or symptom for a particular disease.
“[An asymptomatic person] is a person infected with COVID-19 who does not develop symptoms. Asymptomatic transmission refers to transmission of the virus from a person, who does not develop symptoms,” the W.H.O. said in one of its COVID-19 situation update report.
Autoimmune according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, is a medical condition where the body attacks itself.
“An autoimmune disease is an illness that causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack normal body tissues. Autoimmune is when your body attacks itself. It sees a part of your body or a process as a disease and tries to combat it.”
We also spoke to Benson Owusu Atuahene who is a Registered Nurse at the Intensive Care Unit of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital who explained the two terms as follows:
Asymptomatic: Asymptomatic carriers are those who are positive to the disease but show no signs and symptoms.
Autoimmune: A disease condition in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.
Based on the explanations above, we find that the claim is false. An asymptomatic COVID-19 victim is not the same as autoimmunity or [being] autoimmune.