Debunking the Myths About Covid19
The global panic that has ensued in the face of a brand-new, poorly understood, fast-spreading virus has allowed misinformation and myths to thrive. This creates an endless, self-perpetuating cycle of fear — and does little to actually stop the spread of disease. By contrast, accurate information enables us to protect ourselves effectively and limit the spread of Covid19. Below, we use coronavirus facts to debunk some of the most common myths circulating around the internet, social media, and word of mouth.
Myth: Indian immune systems are so exposed to germs, they’re strong enough to protect against Covid19.
Exposure to pathogens can provide some immune benefits – but not against the novel coronavirus. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests ongoing exposure to coronavirus doesn’t build immunity, but erodes it; health workers at the frontlines of the pandemic are contracting Covid19 at much faster rates than their age-group peers precisely because their immune systems have been worn down by overexposure to the virus.
Myth: Herd immunity will protect people from Covid19.
Herd immunity is a phenomenon that occurs when so many members of a community have immunity against a pathogen that it diminishes to the point that even non-immune people are protected. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that catching and surviving the novel coronavirus leaves patients with immunity to it; in fact, many experts expect the virus to evolve, much like the flu virus does, so that even people who have had Covid19 may still be vulnerable to repeat infection in the future.
Myth: Superfoods like garlic and turmeric can protect people from Covid19.
Garlic, turmeric, and other foods are known for their antibacterial properties – but because Covid19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria, their use is inapplicable. Additionally, there is no scientific consensus that any food can boost immunity to the point of defending against an unknown pathogen like the novel coronavirus.
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Myth: If the people around you aren’t coughing or feverish, you’re safe.
Experts now believe that many cases of Covid19, especially among young people, display no symptoms – but are still contagious. This is one of the main reasons behind the rapid and insidious spread of the disease: many people are carrying it but don’t even realize that they are contagious.
Myth: Vegetarian diets can protect against Covid19.
Covid19 may have originated in an open-air meat market, but eating non-vegetarian food does not transmit the disease, or put one at a greater risk of getting infected. The virus spreads via contact with an infected person — inhaling droplets when they cough or sneeze or touching a surface where these droplets may have landed and then touching one’s own mouth or nose. Proper handwashing, not touching our faces, and social distancing can offer protection against contracting the infection.
Myth: India’s warm climate will stop the spread of Covid19.
Until last week, experts believed that the novel coronavirus would not thrive in warmer climates. But with the number of cases increasing each day, experts actually are not sure about how the virus behaves in different climates. “The impact of the virus is as serious in hot-humid weather conditions of Singapore as in the colder environment of European countries,” Dr. Randeep Guleria, the director of AIIMS, Delhi, told the Economic Times.
Myth: Gargling salt water can prevent catching Covid19.
Gargling a saline solution offers no protection against Covid19, nor is it an effective treatment. Gargling a warm solution can ease throat pain, which is likely how this myth originated, but it can’t kill a virus, nor prevent infection. Proper handwashing, not touching our faces, and social distancing are the best preventative measures we can take.
Myth: Blood type determines who contracts Covid19.
People with any blood type can contract Covid19. One very small study suggests people with Type A blood might be more vulnerable to the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean all other blood types are safe, nor all people with Type A doomed.
Myth: Antibiotics can treat Covid19.
Antibiotics treat diseases caused by bacteria; they are completely ineffective against Covid19, which is caused by a virus. Taking unnecessary antibiotics to ‘treat’ Covid19 can have disastrous effects. First, it contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Second, it uses up antibiotics that Covid19 patients with secondary infections might need to survive. If you have Covid19 or suspect you have it, consult a doctor by phone.
Myth: If you can comfortably hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don’t have Covid19.
Covid19 is often asymptomatic. While it’s a respiratory infection that can make breathing difficult, Covid19 often manifests without symptoms, meaning you could be infected and have no problems holding your breath. If you have Covid19 or suspect you have it, consult a doctor by phone.
Myth: If you have a runny nose and/or a wet cough, it’s just a cold.
In a minority of cases, coronavirus can weaken the immune system to the point of allowing secondary respiratory infections, like pneumonia, to take hold. While Covid19 is characterized by a dry cough, these secondary infections can cause wet, or phlegmy coughs. If you have Covid19 or suspect you have it, consult a doctor by phone.
Myth: The new coronavirus is mutating to become deadlier.
The novel coronavirus behind Covid19 does not mutate significantly as it spreads, say researchers who are studying its genetic material. While all viruses evolve over time, there is no evidence any emerging strains of the new virus are becoming more dangerous; the integrity of its genome is relatively unchanging, reports the Washington Post. This is good news for the development of a vaccine that can remain effective long term.
Myth: Homeopathy can prevent, treat, and cure Covid19.
Homeopathy is not effective in preventing, treating or curing coronavirus infection. Systematic reviews of research have repeatedly found zero high-quality studies that speak to the philosophy’s effectiveness in treating illnesses. Homeopathy does not ward off or kill viruses. What can protect and treat us? Following expert recommendations around social distancing and handwashing, and quality allopathic care should we become sick.
Myth: A new outbreak, this time of hantavirus, has started in China and is spreading.
Hantaviruses are not new, nor can they be transmitted between humans. This myth has its roots in the recent death of a hantavirus-infected man in China. Unlike the novel coronavirus, which before the pandemic was not seen in humans, virologists have known about hantaviruses for decades. Also unlike the novel coronavirus, which spreads rapidly and easily from human to human, hantaviruses can only be ‘caught’ from contact with rodent urine, feces, saliva, or bites. Cases of hantavirus infection, while serious, are extremely rare and don’t spread between humans.