Factors associated with the myth about 5G network during COVID-19 pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa

Godwin Ovenseri-Ogbomo, Tanko Ishaya, Uchechukwu L. Osuagwu, Emmanuel K. Abu, Obinna Nwaeze, Richard Oloruntoba, Bernadine Ekpenyong, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Timothy Chikasirimobi, Raymond Langsi, Deborah D. Charwe, Kingsley Agho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Globally, the conspiracy theory claiming 5G technology can spread the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is making the rounds on social media and this could have a significant effect in tackling the spread of the pandemic. This study investigated the impact of the myth that 5G technology is linked to COVID-19 pandemic among sub-Saharan Africans (SSA). Methods A cross-sectional survey was administered on 2032 participants between April 18 - May 16, 2020, corresponding to the mandatory lockdown period in some SSA countries (April 18 - May 16, 2020). Participants were recruited via Facebook, WhatsApp, and authors’ emails. The outcome measure was whether respondent believed that 5G technology was the cause of the coronavirus outbreak or not. Multiple logistic regression analyses using backward stepwise were used to examine the associated factors. Results About 7.3% of the participants believed that 5G technology was behind the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants from Central Africa reported the highest proportion (14.4%) while the lowest proportion (5.4%) was among those from Southern Africa. After adjusting for potential covariates in the multivariate analysis, Central Africans (adjusted odds ratio, AOR 2.12; 95% confidence interval, CI=1.20-3.75), females (AOR 1.86; 95% CI=1.20-2.84) and those who were unemployed at the time of this study (AOR 1.91; 95% CI=1.08-3.36) were more likely to believe in the myth that 5G technology was linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants who felt that COVID-19 pandemic will not continue in their country were 1.59 times (95% CI=1.04-2.45) more likely to associate the 5G technology with COVID-19 compared to those who thought that the disease will remain after the lockdown. Participants who were younger were more likely to believe in the 5G technology myth but the association between level of education and belief that 5G technology was associated with COVID-19 which was significant in the univariate analysis (unadjusted odds ratio OR 1.69; 95CI =1.02, 2.80), was nullified after adjustments for all potential confounders. Conclusions This study found that 7.4% of adult participants from SSA held the belief that 5G technology was linked to COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020094
JournalJournal of Global Health Reports
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • 5g technology
  • covid-19
  • sub-saharan africa

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