Ali Baba is an ignorant celebrity

Ali Baba may mean well. But it's not okay to spread misinformation on the premise of noble intentions.

Almost all celebrities are hopeless ignoramuses. And that is because knowledge comes with self-education and research, not with fame.

That is why it is important to, no matter who or how popular you are or think you are, educate yourself before jumping on a matter of public import.

Atunyota Akpobome, alias, Ali Baba, didn’t know this, obviously.

The Nigerian comedian recently shared his experience inside what he said was a coronavirus isolation ward. He then made a blatantly false statement.

“Please, be aware, the next wave of COVID, the new strain that is around now is deadlier than the one that came before because it mutated,” Ali Baba said in an Instagram video on Monday.

I don’t know where Ali Baba got this information from but I know that available data show that it is inaccurate.

Ali Baba likely went through hell in that COVID ward. So, he was right to warn Nigerians about the dangers of calling the coronavirus a hoax. He also did well to offer well-known advice on following common-sense safety tips.

But Ali Baba’s comments on the nature of mutated coronaviruses are misleading, infected by ignorance, and tantamount to fearmongering.

For starters, coronaviruses are known to weaken when they mutate and the current strain, which some experts say emanated from the UK, already shows signs of toeing that conventional path.


CDC interim verdict on the UK strain of the coronavirus

A new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that contains a series of mutations has been described in the United Kingdom (UK) and become highly prevalent in London and southeast England. Based on these mutations, this variant strain has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2. Although a variant may predominate in a geographic area, that fact alone does not mean that the variant is more infectious. Scientists are working to learn more about this variant to better understand how easily it might be transmitted and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against it. At this time, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. Information regarding the virologic, epidemiologic, and clinical characteristics of the variant are rapidly emerging. CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is monitoring the situation closely. CDC will communicate new information as it becomes available.

Source: US Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In fact, experts say that there is no evidence to show that the UK strain is deadlier than its predecessors. There is also no evidence to show that it makes people sicker. Like other coronaviruses, it has become more transmissible. When that kind of mutation occurs with coronaviruses, it weakens their fatality — their ability to kill. It is, however, unknown if the UK strain is less deadly. But data show that it isn’t more lethal.

In addition to this, those who have built up natural immunity after catching previous strains of the coronavirus will also be protected from the UK strain. The mutation seems minor. Experts say the pathogen seems to be mutating slower than the flu which requires regular vaccine updates. That may also be the reason why some experts say the vaccines that were manufactured based on older strains of the coronavirus will work for the “UK strain”.

“There’s zero evidence that there’s any increase in severity” of COVID-19 from the latest strain, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan said on December 22. WHO is yet to declare otherwise.

“This is not the time to panic,” Dr Shira Doron, an infectious diseases specialist, also told CBS News in December.

“In all likelihood, this is just another mutation that leads to another strain, and this is what we have seen throughout the pandemic.”

Did you hear that? The UK strain is not the first coronavirus mutation of the ongoing pandemic. And there is no evidence to suggest that any previous or current mutation has led to a deadlier spread.

“Viruses mutate all the time,” says Dr. Jose Cordero of the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. “The best way to explain it is that it’s part of evolution.” It is their nature.

There is a South African strain of the coronavirus. But health authorities say it neither spreads nor kills faster than the UK strain.

Ali Baba may mean well. But good intentions are not enough. It’s not okay to spread misinformation on the premise of noble intentions.

We the people must also be wary of listening to celebrities whenever they speak outside the field of their expertise. History shows that 99.9 per cent of these guys don’t know much.

Rotimi Akinola

Rotimi is a multimedia journalist and editor of The Realm News.

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