With the coronavirus worldwide, it’s no surprise that people are panicking. For the uninitiated, the coronavirus causes a disease known as COVID-19. Its symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Scientifically inaccurate information about the coronavirus and how to prevent / cure it circulating on social media and some incompetent news agencies only makes matters worse. To help you reduce the large amount of misinformation, we have debunked some of the popular myths about the coronavirus in this article. Look at them.
Myth 1: Coronavirus is no more dangerous than seasonal flu.
While it is true that the symptoms of coronavirus are not worse than those of seasonal influenza, its mortality rate is higher. While seasonal flu kills less than 1% of those infected, the WHO has confirmed that 3.4% of reported COVID-19 patients have died worldwide (as of March 4, 2020) ( one). So yes, any flu-like symptoms you are experiencing right now need to be taken a little more seriously.
Myth 2: Coronavirus only kills older people, so younger people and children don’t need to worry.
The COVID-19 mortality rate increases with age. It varies between 0.2-0.4% between the ages of 0 to 49 and is constantly increasing in this regard. Its peak is 14.8% among people who are over 80 years old. While it is true that older people and people with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to this disease, anyone of any age can become infected. Also, it can cause some serious breathing problems, regardless of your age or health.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to the coronavirus, such as healthcare workers and immediate family / caregivers who care for infected people indoors. Therefore, young and healthy people should report symptoms and carefully follow quarantine instructions to protect the most vulnerable members of society and prevent the disease from spreading.
Myth 3: You must wear a face mask.
This is partly true. A virus can enter your body through the eyes, and aerosols (small virus particles) can penetrate your face masks. However, they can block the drops from someone who coughs or sneezes near you. The drops are actually an important form of transmission of the coronavirus.
However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that there are only two groups of people who are recommended to wear masks:
- Patients: People who have the coronavirus and / or show symptoms should use them to avoid spreading it to others.
- Caregivers: Health and social workers caring for patients with COVID-19 or spending long periods in a hospital should wear masks to protect themselves from infection. Family members / caregivers caring for patients are also included in this category.
Buying face masks when not included in these categories increases scarcity and leads to price increases. This puts healthcare workers and patients who really need them, and everyone around them, at risk.
Also, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has said that people who are not healthcare providers and don’t know how to wear face masks correctly tend to touch their faces more, which can actually increase the spread of the coronavirus.
Myth 4: You must be around an infected person for 10 minutes to get infected.
While medical guidelines for the flu indicate that you must be within 6 feet of an infected person (who sneezes and / or coughs) for at least 10 minutes to become infected, the coronavirus can infect you through shorter interactions. It can also pick up the virus from contaminated surfaces. Therefore, be sure to wash and disinfect your hands as often as possible.
Myth 5: A vaccine will be ready in a few months.
Although a coronavirus vaccine is being developed and tested in animal models, testing it in humans for all side effects and making it commercially available will take much longer. In fact, it would be fast if we got it in a year. The best course of action at this time is to prevent it from spreading.
Myth 6: Home remedies can cure / prevent coronavirus.
While garlic, water, and vitamin C are great for your health, consuming them will not cure or protect you from the coronavirus. Other similar “remedies” circulating on social media are that covering your body with sesame oil, chlorine, or alcohol can kill the virus, which is not true.
You can use chemical disinfectants like chloroform, bleach, peracetic acid, ether solvents, and 75% ethanol to kill the virus on other surfaces. But, under no circumstances apply them to your body. Not only will it not kill the virus that is already inside your body, but it can also be extremely dangerous.
Stay away from infected patients and wash / disinfect your hands frequently to protect yourself from the virus.
Myth 7: People who become infected with coronaviruses will die.
As mentioned above, the coronavirus mortality rate is 3.4%, and it is expected to decrease over time. Death reports from this virus are rarer. However, it can cause serious respiratory conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis in the elderly, young children, and people with weakened immune systems.
Given that thousands of cases have been reported and the virus continues to spread, even a 3% death rate is cause for concern.
Myth 8: Warm weather can kill the coronavirus.
United States President Donald Trump has suggested that the coronavirus cannot survive in higher temperatures and is likely to disappear in April. However, public health experts say there is not enough information about this new virus and that there is no way of knowing if heat can kill it.
Myth 9: Pneumonia vaccines can protect you from the coronavirus.
No, pneumonia vaccines, such as the pneumococcal vaccine and the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, do not work on the coronavirus. A vaccine for this extremely new virus is currently being developed.
Myth 10: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can prevent coronavirus infection.
No, there is no scientific evidence that rinsing the nose with saline can prevent coronavirus infection. Also, always wash your hands before touching or wiping your nose.
Myth 11: Antibiotics can prevent and treat coronavirus / COVID-19.
Antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses. However, people receiving treatment for COVID-19 can receive antibiotics if they have a bacterial coinfection.
Myth 12: Coronavirus is man-made.
Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook and WhatsApp. Conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus are abundant. While many people outside of China believe it is a bioweapon that was being developed in a Chinese laboratory and leaked, the counter argument on Chinese social media is that it was released by the US Scientists on both sides have ruled out the theories.
Although the exact origin of the coronavirus is still unknown, experts believe it likely originated from bats and jumped to another host before moving on to humans, much like SARS in 2003.
Myth 13: Hand dryers can kill the new coronavirus.
No, hand dryers cannot kill the new coronavirus. They only expel hot air and are not designed to kill any kind of microorganisms. In fact, they can be counterproductive since they absorb microbes and circulate them around the room. Therefore, if someone infected with coronavirus coughs or sneezes in the bathroom, the hand dryer absorbs the droplets of mucus and saliva that it expels and disperses them throughout the room. This could spread the virus even further.
Therefore, the best course of action is to wash your hands with soap and water or clean them frequently with a disinfectant to protect yourself from this virus. Then use a paper towel to dry them.
Myth 14: An ultraviolet disinfection lamp can kill the coronavirus.
While this is technically true, you should never use a UV lamp on your hands or other parts of your body, as it can cause skin irritation.
Myth 15: Thermal scanners can detect people infected with coronavirus.
Thermal scans can detect who has a fever due to a coronavirus infection. However, they cannot detect the infection if the person has not yet developed a fever. It takes 2 to 10 days for infected people to get sick and develop a fever.
Myth 16: You can become infected with coronavirus through a letter / package from China.
No. The coronavirus cannot survive long on any object, including cards and packages.
Myth 17: Pets can transmit the coronavirus.
Currently, there is no scientific evidence that animals such as cats and dogs can become infected with coronavirus. In any case, wash your hands with soap and water after touching your pets as a precaution.
While this coronavirus outbreak is serious, it is important to educate yourself and stay calm. Panic will make you, not just you but everyone else around you feel anxious. Follow preventive measures established by trusted medical agencies and wash your hands as often as possible to prevent infection.