22 Pervasive Coronavirus Myths Busted
The coronavirus disease that originated in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019 has quickly become a pandemic, testing the capacity of healthcare systems the world over. With millions now in quarantine, self-isolation, and lockdown, responsible governance and public cooperation are the need of the hour. Social media also has its part to play, the caveat being that people use it responsibly. Misconceptions around the disease abound, adding to the panic and disinformation. Here are some rampant myths and why they are false. Stay informed, stay safe, stay healthy.
Myth- Pets can transmit the virus
A single instance of an infected pet owner’s dog testing positive for the coronavirus led to the belief that pets are potential carriers of this virus. It has also resulted in various instances of people abandoning their pets in a bid to stay safe.
Truth- Pets are not carriers of the disease
This myth shook millions around the world but has little to back it up. In Hong Kong, an infected person’s pet dog tested positive, but that has been the only case reported so far. Coronavirus transmits via human-to-human contact, and there has been no evidence of the possibility of animal-to-human transmission. Knowing that pets do not transmit the virus comes as a relief for pet lovers in these trying times.
Myth- Packages from China are possibly caked in the virus
People are afraid of receiving packages from China as they believe that the packages may have the virus breeding on them and may lead to an infection.
Truth- The packages you receive are as safe as they were earlier
This misconception has caught so much wind that people are no longer treating it like a rumor. However, just because the disease originated in the country does not mean it is present on or can be transmitted through everything from China. Scientifically, for a virus to remain in its virulent form, it needs favorable conditions, which is not possible during packaging and shipping.
Myth- Bleach the virus away
Another baseless myth is that gargling with bleach can protect you from COVID-19. The thought behind this, we can only imagine, is that bleach can help people wash out the virus as it is a strong chemical often used as a disinfectant.
Truth- Do not consume chemicals
Bleach, albeit a good disinfectant, should be used carefully. It is a harsh chemical and is unsuitable for use on living organisms. It is dangerous if used for gargling and can also prove to be life-threatening in some cases. It is best to follow precautionary measures suggested by healthcare professionals, like washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing.
Myth- Consuming Chinese food can infect you
Since the virus originated in China, rumors have it that you will endanger yourself if you consume Chinese food.
Truth- The virus is not cuisine-specific
Although it was where COVID-19 originated, the virus is transmitted via human-to-human contact and the country and its cuisine have nothing to do with the transmission. The only way you can contact it while consuming Chinese food is through a person around you who is infected and is a carrier. Your favorite Chinese dish is as safe as ever and can’t infect you!
Myth- Home remedies are effective against the virus
In these trying times, people have fallen back on home remedies and supplementary medication to prevent or cure infection.
Truth- Ironclad your doors and stay in
The novel coronavirus has a different structure than the previous viruses known to man, and with the viral infection spreading like wildfire, home remedies have also made it to the list of things people are trying. However, home remedies like vitamin C, essential oils, or sipping water every few minutes are not effective in preventing COVID-19.
Myth- It’s just a fancy flu
The novel coronavirus is being compared to the flu as the symptoms are fairly similar to the ones that arise with an onset of flu.
Truth- It ain’t just the flu
Although the symptoms presented by this disease are fairly similar to those of the flu, the conditions are not the same. Comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu undermines the effects of this disease. It can, like the flu, cause pneumonia, but the mortality rate of this virus is a lot higher than that of the flu.
Myth- The coronavirus infection is a death sentence
The virus is deadly, and an infection will lead a person to their deathbed.
Truth- Most patients have mild symptoms and recover
Although the initial cases and the spread of the virus were uncontrolled, the disease hasn’t resulted in death in every case. Around 80% of patients develop mild symptoms, and proper care and treatment can help them recover. Also, social isolation is the key to living healthy in the current scenario, so stay home to stay safe.
Myth- Coronavirus affects people who eat meat
When the news of the probable origin of this deadly virus from a meat market arose, meat consumption took a hit. A whole lot of the population shunned the idea of eating non-vegetarian food in an attempt to exempt themselves from contracting this disease.
Truth- Food is not a carrier
The place where the disease originated has not been responsible for it spreading and infecting others. Man is a social animal, and socializing is what has been transmitting the disease far and wide. There has been no evidence suggesting that the virus spreads through the consumption of meat, and this myth was also debunked by the WHO.
Myth- Pneumonia vaccine to your rescue
Many are discussing the benefits of medications like the pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccines against the new coronavirus. The discussion stems from the possibility that these viral vaccines are effective against viruses in general and that something is better than nothing.
Truth- Pneumonia vaccines work just against pneumonia
Numerous theories have been floating, and one of them is the possibility of other viral vaccines preventing the disease. Although the existing vaccines protect against specific respiratory illnesses, this is a new virus that needs a new vaccine.
Myth- Summer is your friend against the coronavirus
Another rampant myth making the rounds is that the novel coronavirus cannot survive in high temperatures. This has also led people to believe that come spring, the world will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as the virus will be less dangerous in certain regions, at the very least.
Truth- Coronavirus is not affected by environmental temperatures
This myth presumably stemmed from the fact that a lot of microbes can be killed at high temperatures, but these temperatures are much higher than those during summers. Granted that certain viruses, like the flu virus, are less prevalent during warm weather, the same cannot be said for the new coronavirus. Current evidence suggests that the disease is equally prevalent in countries like Australia and Singapore, and nothing points to a seasonal rise in temperature working against its spread.
Myth- Hot water baths can prevent it
Hot baths can be calming and soothing, and hot water can aid in killing the harmful new coronavirus on the skin, preventing the disease.
Truth- Hot water baths only soothe muscle pain!
Hot baths can warm or heat your skin, depending on the temperature of the water, but your body temperature remains the same. The virus, if it has entered your body, remains unaffected by the temperature of the water, but you might burn your skin if it’s too hot!
Myth- Mosquito repellents can help
Quite a few diseases known to man are transmitted by mosquitoes, so these insects can also be carriers of the new coronavirus.
While mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of malaria, there has been no evidence of them partaking in the spread of the new coronavirus disease. It is a respiratory disease, and mosquitoes can only transmit diseases by transferring infected blood from one person to another. The coronavirus disease spreads through droplets that escape an infected person’s mouth when they cough or sneeze, so cover your nose and mouth and maintain a safe distance from people.
Myth- Dryers can kill the virus
The belief that hot air kills the new coronavirus has led people to put their hand and hair dryers to use, hoping that they will get rid of the virus for good.
Truth- The virus is persistent
Dryers are not an effective tool for destroying this virus. Instead, you must wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. After washing your hands, use a paper towel or a warm air dryer to dry them.
Myth- The virus can be detected with thermal scanners
Thermal scanners can be effectively used for detecting people infected with the new coronavirus disease. This myth is a result of the use of thermal scanners in various public places to screen people for higher than normal body temperatures.
Truth- Just a part of the screening process
Although thermal scanners make the screening process easier, they only detect symptomatic patients of the disease. You must understand that everyone with a higher than normal body temperature may not necessarily have contracted the new coronavirus, and not everyone who has contracted it will have developed a fever. This is because a person might take 2 to 10 days to develop any symptoms after being infected.
Myth- Ultraviolet lamps can be used as disinfectants
UV light has been effectively used to disinfect surfaces and is effective in getting rid of microbes. It provides the desired results, so UV lamps can be used to disinfect our hands as well.
Truth- Not suitable for the skin
Although effective in disinfecting surfaces, UV lamps should not be used for disinfecting the hands or any part of the skin. The use of an ultraviolet lamp for sterilizing your hands might cause skin irritation as the skin is not immune to the harshness of the light.
Myth- Spraying alcohol and chlorine on your body can kill the virus
A widespread myth is that spraying the body with alcohol can help wash off the microorganism, and chlorine can also help rid unwanted microbes.
Truth- These solutions only disinfect surfaces
Alcohol or chlorine solutions can be used to disinfect surfaces, but spraying them on your body is no good against a virus that has already entered it and will be affecting the respiratory system. In fact, these are strong chemicals and can harm the mucous membranes as well as your clothes.
Myth- Nasal lavage can prevent the disease
In recent times, nasal lavage has been gaining a lot of attention as a means of cleaning out microbes from the nasal passages. And the new coronavirus causing a respiratory disease has brought back the idea of bathing your nasal cavity with saline water.
Truth- It works only for cold
Nasal lavage is the process of passing warm saline water through the nasal passage to clear out congestion, rid it of microbial growth, and maintain hygiene. Though this process proves effective in treating the common cold, it is not known to have a preventive effect against the coronavirus. This is because the new coronavirus causes a respiratory illness and resides mainly in the lungs and not in the nasal passage.
Myth- Garlic can keep corona at bay
The antimicrobial properties of garlic have led people to believe that chewing on raw garlic can keep them from being infected by the virus.
Truth- Garlic is healthy, but not particularly
Despite the aptness of garlic being a healthy food choice, there is no evidence that it prevents the new coronavirus disease. While including garlic in your meals can help boost your immunity, raw garlic is not known for keeping COVID-19 away.
Myth- Coronavirus targets the old
We have been hearing that the coronavirus is dangerous for the old but does not harm the younger generations. This myth has even led the younger folks around the world to believe that they have nothing to worry about.
Truth- The virus is not biased
Studies show that the virus does not specifically target people in their old age. Although older people are at a higher risk of contracting the disease, so are those who are young but have a lower immunity or suffer from a chronic illness. This means that the younger population is equally susceptible and should not scour the streets unprotected.
Myth- Antibiotics are effective in fighting against the coronavirus
Antibiotics help us fight several illnesses, so they may also be effective in battling the new coronavirus disease.
Although antibiotics work against many ailments, they are ineffective in this case as they only work against bacteria. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and this class of medication does not affect viruses.
Myth- A vaccine is just around the corner
Rumors about the imminent arrival of a cure or vaccine against the new coronavirus disease have been on the rise. Multiple sources might tell you of a lab or country working on a vaccine that is soon to arrive.
Truth- Developments happen, but they take time
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with its partners to devise a vaccine for COVID-19, but there have been no declarations that a medication or vaccine to treat or prevent this disease has been invented. Although a lot of work is going on, the development of a vaccine is a time-consuming process. Currently, there is no known cure or prevention, and the infected people are being treated for the symptoms.
Myth- Masks can prevent transmission
One of the preliminary precautions against COVID-19 is to use face masks. Everywhere you look, people are equipped with hand sanitizers, gloves, and face masks to fight the disease.
Truth- Not all masks serve the fight
Face masks have been an important precautionary measure in the fight against the novel coronavirus, but it is important to note that all masks do not work against the virus. Only certain grades of professional healthcare masks are well equipped to provide protection. The disposable surgical masks can reduce the transmission of the virus if used by infected persons, but they aren’t completely preventive as they are not tight-fitting. Also, touching the face under the mask with bare hands that have the virus can result in infection.