A Professor of Virology and acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Keme Pondei, has rubbished the conspiracy theory linking the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic to the Five Generation Network (5G).
Pondei, who spoke in Port Harcourt in his capacity as a medical expert, explained that the 5G network was expected to be an improvement on the 4G to deliver speed and faster communication.
He warned that the discussion on 5G could divert people’s attention on the devastating spread of the pandemic and called for public sensitisation and enlightenment.
He also debunked the claims that the coronavirus was developed in a laboratory describing the pandemic as a combination of two different viruses, which existed in two particular groups of animals; the pangolin, a scaly animal common in China and Africa) and a particular specie of bat.
He said: “The 5G is suppose to be like a massive improvement on the 4G network in terms of speed for delivery in which you will be able to even download 1gigabite in one minute. It means a faster communication network.
“From what the Nigeria Telecommunication Commission (NCC) has made available, 5G is not in Nigeria. They tested it for about three months. So, whatever mast is here, at worst, it is 4G and nobody has linked 4G with any virus. We know that there is some form of radiation in all those communication things. But there is no evidence that they will cause disease.
“There is no scientific evidence to link the COVID-19 pandemic and the 5G network. From the molecular/biology point of view, this novel coronavirus is called the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2.
“It is similar to the previous one called SARS. But from analysis so far, it is showing that this could be like a combination of two different viruses, which existed in two particular groups of animals; the pangolin (a scaly animal common in China and Africa) and a particular specie of bat.
“There is a lot that is still not known about COVID-19, but it is clear that it is not from genetic manipulation and it is not one lab. Even though there are all those conspiracy theories, what is available in the public domain is that it is a combination”.
On why most of the test kits failed to detect the virus, he said: “Most of the test kits will not work because it will only detect previous SARS or ordinary coronavirus infection because those tests look for antibodies instead of antigens.
“The thing about most viral infections is that as time goes on, the body’s immunity is able to overcome. A person whose immunity is not compromised will overcome the virus. But where a person has an underlying illness; hypertension, diabetes, asthma and others hardly survive it. You find out that most of the people who had died of COVID-19 are people who had these illnesses”.
Ponder called for a compulsory health insurance scheme in the country to help in rescuing the health system in the country.
He said: “Health insurance is the key to universal health coverage. It is the desire of everybody, but health insurance cannot be voluntary; in all the places where this has worked, it is mandatory. The UK that has the National Health Insurance, as far as you work, you contribute to health insurance.
“In Nigeria, it has been very difficult; we have the NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), but it has only been able to cover five percent of the population. Different states have health insurance schemes; I am on the board of Bayelsa State Health Insurance Scheme and I know what it took us to start it just because it was made compulsory.”