Misleading and inaccurate information about the coronavirus pandemic abounds on social media and in the news. Misinformation such as claims about the virus being a hoax or posts that create panic or promote unproven cures can be dangerous to public health and undermine efforts to prevent its spread. Although officials and social networking platforms have started to take steps to stem the flow of such harmful content, it is up to the reader to be well-informed on such sensitive matters.
To put things into perspective and make it easier to understand, we have listed the most common misconceptions about COVID-19.
MYTH: All of the COVID-19 cases are severe and fatal.
FACT: Around 80% of those infected displayed mild symptoms, 14% developed severe diseases like pneumonia and only 5% have been critical. Just over 1% have been asymptomatic.
MYTH: COVID-19 affects only the elderly.
FACT: Adults of all ages can contract COVID-19. However, old people are more vulnerable, especially those over the age of 60. Pregnant women, the immunosuppressed, for example, cancer patients and those with chronic diseases are also in the high-risk group.
MYTH: The novel coronavirus is a lab-made virus.
FACT: SARS-CoV-2 was not produced in a laboratory. It spread through society as a result of natural changes in microorganisms. Medical experts had been expecting epidemics of new viruses originating in Southeast Asia. Dense human populations, large numbers of wide varieties of animals and close contact between animals and humans in this region have increased the risk of virus transformation.
MYTH: Masks are enough to prevent COVID-19.
FACT: Masks, especially the common surgical masks, do not offer adequate protection and constantly touching them to readjust or reusing them can lead to illness. Washing hands thoroughly and often under running water and soap for at least 20-30 seconds is the most effective protection.
MYTH: All hand sanitizers will help kill the virus.
FACT: Using classic Turkish cologne or a disinfectant with an alcohol content of at least 70% is necessary. Don’t get hooked on it though, washing your hands is still your best bet.
MYTH: Gargling with or squirting brine up the nose prevents the virus’ transmission.
FACT: There is no such scientific evidence. If the saline solution is too high in salt it might also cause damage to the upper respiratory tract.
MYTH: A hot cup of coffee or tea will help kill the virus.
FACT: Hot beverages may help you function or calm your nerves, but they have no such proven effect. In fact, drinks that are too hot may cause more harm than good as they can destroy the protective epithelial layer in the mouth and throat.
MYTH: Eating garlic and onions will help ward off the virus.
FACT: While garlic and onions are extremely healthy, high in antioxidants and have antimicrobial properties, there is no scientific evidence to prove that it will keep the virus at bay.
MYTH: A vaccine has been developed against the coronavirus but has yet to be released.
FACT: No vaccine exists so far to protect against the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday that the first vaccine trial had officially begun. Some pharmaceuticals and labs have also said they are working on alternatives.
MYTH: Antibiotics are necessary for treating COVID-19.
FACT: COVID-19 is a viral disease, and antibiotics do not work against viruses; they treat bacterial infections.
Worldwide, out of over 220,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 9,00, while more than 85,000 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a statistics website that compiles new case numbers.
The number of active cases is currently more than 128,136 – 95% mild and 5% in serious or critical condition.
The World Health Organization has declared Europe the new epicenter of the virus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China last December.