Coronavirus Myths vs Facts

Early in the pandemic, the coronavirus was surrounded by questions and unknowns. After two years of dedicated research, we may have too much information on our hands. The “infodemic” has generated a lot of data, opinions, and myths about COVID-19. It can be difficult–and time-consuming–to distinguish COVID facts from fiction. In this article, we’ll help you cut through the noise, and investigate some of the top COVID myths and misperceptions.

Facts and Myths about COVID-19

1. You cannot spread the virus if you have asymptomatic COVID 19

Microscopic view of a virus particle.

This is false. International health authorities, such as the WHO and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have made clear that both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID 19 patients can transmit the virus to others. According to the CDC, “Anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it, even if they do NOT have symptoms.” Unfortunately, the Philippines DOH has played a part in perpetuating this health myth. Their website states that the risk of transmission from asymptomatic individuals is very low, a claim not substantiated by evidence. If you have COVID-19, take every precaution to protect others, whether you feel ill or not.

2. Does a negative COVID test mean you are safe?

A negative rapid antigen test and a positive antigen test.

A negative test means you were most likely not infected at the time your specimen was collected. But it is possible to test too soon, before the virus has time to replicate and show up on a test. If you test too early, you might receive a false negative. A negative test also offers no protection against future infection. Only a COVID vaccine and booster shot can help ward off the disease.

3. Is it safe to open packages and receive deliveries?

	 International shipping package.

The coronavirus can linger on packages and other surfaces for a few hours up to several days. However, surface transmission is rare. The primary way the virus spreads is through tiny, infected droplets that spread through the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Although it’s not a primary mode of infection, surface transmission cannot be ruled out entirely. If you are concerned a package is contaminated, clean it with disinfectant. Take care to wash your hands afterward and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.

4. How can we be sure our clothes don’t spread coronavirus?

	 Purple shirt on a hanger in front of a mirror.

There have been no documented cases of COVID transmission through clothes or shoes. But this doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of surface transmission through clothing. The CDC lists some extra precautions for laundry care, especially if you are a healthcare worker or caregiver for a COVID-positive person.

-Wear disposable gloves while doing the laundry

-Do not shake clothing as this could possibly aerate the virus

-Sanitize clothes hampers

-Wash your hands with soap and water after every step

Killing the virus should not require extra steps or specialized detergents. Regular washing and drying with soap and water should be sufficient.

5. Can drinking alcohol help prevent COVID-19?

Bottle of wine and alcoholic drink

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a surge in alcohol sales. It’s unclear whether the uptick was to ward off lockdown boredom or the virus itself. But the science is clear: Drinking alcohol does not prevent or cure COVID infection. On the contrary, frequent alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system and leave you more vulnerable to infections. Those who have risk factors for COVID-19, such as diabetes or advanced age, should avoid alcohol all the more.

6. Does alcohol or chlorine kill the coronavirus?

Disinfectant killing microscopic particles.

Alcohol and chlorine can be used to disinfect surfaces, but not people. This health myth gained popularity after former US President Donald Trump suggested injecting disinfectant to kill the coronavirus. The claim is patently false–and dangerous. Disinfectants can be poisonous if ingested. Even external exposure can damage your eyes, skin, and lungs. There is no evidence that these substances kill the virus inside your body.

7. Can rinsing your nose with saline prevent COVID?

Bottle of saline solution.

False claims are circulating that you can rinse the coronavirus out of your nose using saline. These reports are untrue. While saline can help alleviate the symptoms of a runny nose, it cannot prevent COVID-19. The coronavirus is microscopic and cannot be flushed out of your nose or throat.

8. Does weather play a part in the spread of COVID?

A tree in snow and cold weather without leaves.

COVID-19 spreads in any climate. Research indicates that temperature and weather have little to no impact on coronavirus transmission. Whether the weather is rainy, dry, hot, or cold-you can catch the coronavirus. It’s essential to get vaccinated and practice preventative hygiene no matter the season or climate.

9. Can eating garlic prevent COVID-19?

A bulb and clove of garlic.

Garlic has some antimicrobial properties, and is a healthy addition to your diet. However, there is no evidence that garlic and other home remedies for COVID are effective.

10. Can COVID be transmitted through mosquitoes?

A mosquito with blood on its proboscis.

No, this is another health myth. There is no evidence that mosquitoes transmit the virus. Coronavirus is spread through droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking.

11. Are digital thermometers 100% effective in detecting COVID-19 patients?

A digital thermometer indicating temperature

No. Even a PCR test is not 100% effective. Digital thermometers are used for mass screening. Since fever is a common first symptom, digital thermometers work well to quickly triage patients. However, they are not a diagnostic tool and cannot weed out every positive case or asymptomatic people. A COVID test is needed to confirm or rule out coronavirus infection.

12. Do vitamins for COVID immunity work?

Vitamin tablets and capsules.

Many supplements have entered the market claiming they can boost immunity against COVID-19. Micronutrients, such as vitamins D and C and zinc, are essential for immune system functioning. However, research does not support these supplements as a prevention or cure for COVID infection. You may take them to potentially improve overall immune function. But a COVID vaccine offers proven protection vs. taking vitamins for COVID immunity.

How do you check for valid information about COVID 19?

	 A magnifying glass held to a computer screen searching facts

That’s a quick rundown of common myths about coronavirus. But how do you check for valid information about COVID 19? The onslaught of COVID news makes it challenging to discern covid myths from reliable facts. To help you better assess the information surrounding the pandemic, we’ve compiled some reputable sources of COVID news and information.

-The World Health Organization (WHO)—The WHO is the public health arm of the United Nations. It collects data from hundreds of research institutions around the world. The website publishes technical information for doctors, researchers, and public health authorities.The site also contains information for the layman, such as COVID prevention guides, FAQs, and the latest COVID news.

-The New York Times—One of the world’s most respected news sources, the New York Times publishes continuously updated COVID news on their website. Infographics make the information accessible and easy to share. The online newspaper covers the pandemic broadly, including travel restrictions, economic impact, and a tribute section to the lives lost.

-The CDC has a dedicated website that publishes information about all aspects of the disease, including COVID testing, prevention, and treatment protocols. It is the official public health agency of the US Government; the latest, scientifically-backed guidelines can be found on their site.

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