When you have a new virus emerge, such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s expected that there will be somewhat of a learning curve. Doctors, scientists, and health experts are busy researching as much as they can about the pandemic that is continuing to sweep countries throughout the world. But while testing and studies are conducted by experts to better understand COVID-19 and how we should respond to it, myths and conspiracy theories continue to circulate. Circulating misinformation can lead to poor decision making and increase risk factors surrounding the virus.
Staying informed during the pandemic that has led to infections in the millions and deaths in the hundreds of thousands is vital. In this article, we’ll discuss and dispel common myths and untruths surrounding the coronavirus.
Myth: COVID-19 doesn’t infect children.
The majority of infections from the virus appear to be within adult populations, but children are still becoming infected. Some children are also developing dangerous symptoms related to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease following infection. It’s vital that children and adults alike continue to take precautionary steps to avoid contagion and prevent further spread.
Myth: If I wear a face mask, I’m protected.
It’s important first to note that wearing a mask in public is strongly recommended by the CDC. A common misunderstanding with mask-wearing, however, is that the mask protects you against infection. Mask wearing is actually intended to protect those around you from becoming infected should you be a carrier. As the CDC says, “Your cloth face covering may protect them. Their cloth face covering may protect you.”
Myth: Coronavirus only kills senior citizens.
Fatality rates are indeed higher in populations over 80 years of age, with recent reports showing a 14.8 percent death rate for this group. That being said, all other age groups, young and old, are experiencing different and varied fatality rates.
Myth: Catching the coronavirus is the same as catching the flu.
The comparison between COVID-19 and seasonal flu strains is a commonly heard one, which is understandable given the similarity of symptoms; however, the infection and fatality numbers between the two viruses are starkly different. Most notably, the average death rate for seasonal flu usually rests around 0.1 percent each season. In comparison, in the U.S., almost six percent of those infected have died. Transmission rates are also much higher in COVID-19 cases than the flu. Each year, about eight percent of the U.S. population is infected with the flu, while the CDC estimates infection rates of 50 to 80 percent with the coronavirus.
Myth: Nasal saline rinses are an effective way to prevent COVID-19 infection.
This is false. While treatment with saline has been shown to help with symptoms often associated with upper respiratory infections (sore throat, cough, and congestion), there have been no studies thus far proving saline as an effective way to prevent contamination from the COVID-19 virus.
Myth: Once summer hits, the virus will disappear.
This notion arises from the fact that flu season usually begins winding down once the warmer temperatures hit. At this time, there have been no conclusive studies determining what we can expect the virus to do with temperature rises.
Myth: Using bleach in or on the human body can treat COVID-19 or prevent infection.
This is a false and dangerous myth currently circulating. While bleach can be used as an effective cleaning tool in the home, hospitals, or businesses, it should never be used in or on the human body. Bathing with, swallowing, applying topically, or injecting bleach can lead to severe injury or death and should never be done. If you or someone you know has done any of these things, call 911 immediately.
Myth: The virus is humanmade.
Scientists and doctors have dispelled this as a myth. The origins of the virus are still being studied; the general consensus within the scientific community is that it is of animal origin and made the jump to human infection.
Myth: Taking ibuprofen or NSAIDs can lead to a worsening of symptoms from the coronavirus.
When the coronavirus first began making waves, a statement was made by the minister of health in France that symptoms were being made worse when NSAIDs were consumed. There has been no evidence or studies to corroborate this statement.
Myth: A COVID-19 vaccine has been developed.
While the scientific and medical community are hard at work developing a vaccine, one has not been developed yet. The fact of the matter is that the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine is likely months away and won’t be seen until next year.
Myth: The virus can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
This is false. Antibiotics are used to treat infections from bacteria but are ineffective in treating infections from viruses.
Myth: 5G technology is used to spread the coronavirus.
A false conspiracy theory has been circulating about the virus being spread through 5G radio waves. While it has been pointed out that the virus continues to spread in countries that do not have 5G, there still have been several incidents of arson on 5G towers due to this myth.
Myth: You have immunity from the coronavirus once you’ve already had it once.
While it isn’t expected to cause short-term reinfection, there are no proven immunity theories with the virus as of yet. In fact, there have been several instances of those who have recovered from COVID-19 catching mild cases a second time.
Myth: You can get infected with COVID-19 from touching Chinese-imported products.
This is false. Rates of transmission of the virus from any imported products from any country are thought to be relatively low. Because the coronavirus does not survive long on many surfaces, chances of spreading in this way are unlikely.
Myth: Out of all viruses humans are exposed to, coronavirus is the most deadly.
While the fatality rates of COVID-19 are high and very concerning, several other viruses have higher rates. Both Ebola and SARS have a higher morbidity rate than the virus currently circulating.