Updated on 04/30/2020, 3:00 PM EST
The novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019, and as of yet, the medical community doesn’t have all the answers about the COVID-19 disease.
However, that hasn’t stopped the commentators, the internet and social media from featuring false medical claims and bogus information about the virus and the disease.
U.S. News and World Report spoke with health care and infectious disease experts to debunk some common myths associated with the coronavirus.
MYTH: Only older people can be infected with the coronavirus.
While it’s true that people over the age of 65 are more severely affected by the coronavirus, anyone, at any age is susceptible to the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers this advice to reduce the risk of infection:
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid close contact with others and with people who are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when around other people
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the corner of your elbow when you cough and sneeze
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
MYTH: African Americans are immune from being infected.
Social media sites have perpetuated the myth that African Americans are immune from being infected with the coronavirus.
Brandon Brown, an associate professor at the Center for Healthy Communities at the UC Riverside School of Medicine, puts it plainly, “Everyone is at risk.”
MYTH: Drinking alcohol can protect you from the coronavirus.
Simply put, drinking alcohol will in no way protect you from contracting the coronavirus.
Also, another myth that needs to be debunked: You cannot get the coronavirus from Corona beer.
MYTH: If you drink lots of water, you won’t get the coronavirus.
This myth may come from the fact that hydration may be part of the treatment for COVID-19. Drinking lots of water will keep you hydrated, but will not prevent you from getting the coronavirus.
MYTH: You need to wash your hands with a special soap.
Antibacterial and medical soaps are not needed for washing your hands to remove the coronavirus or other viruses. Regular soap is fine. Just remember to frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Click here for hand-washing guidance from the CDC.
MYTH: Going to a place that’s warm can lower your chances of infection.
According to Dr. Hamid S. Syed, an acute care and primary care physician at Regan Medical Center in Gwinnett County, Ga., your location – warm or cold – has no bearing on your risk of infection.
A higher risk factor is traveling. “Right now, traveling may not be a good idea because it usually involves going through crowded places, and that increases your risk of getting infected or transmitting the virus to other people,” said Dr. Syed.
MYTH: If you become infected with coronavirus, you’ll die.
Some people have become infected with the coronavirus and never experienced any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic.
Around 80% of people infected experience mild to moderate symptoms.
Of the people severely infected, only a small percentage will die.
It’s important to remember who is at the highest risk of a severe illness if infected with the coronavirus. These groups of people should take extra precautions to prevent infection.
- People 65 years and older
- People living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with asthma
- People with HIV
- People with underlying medical conditions
- People with disabilities
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People experiencing homelessness
- Some racial and ethnic minority groups
Click here for more information about people who need to take extra precautions to prevent infection from the coronavirus.
MYTH: Aiming a blow dryer up your nostrils can destroy the coronavirus.
The heat from a hairdryer cannot kill the coronavirus.
According to Dr. Amna Husain, a board-certified pediatrician with Pure Direct Pediatrics in Marlboro, N.J., “If this worked, we would’ve been using it and instituting clinical trials with blow dryers rather than worrying about ventilators and ICU beds.”
MYTH: The coronavirus is airborne.
The World Health Organization says there is no compelling evidence that the coronavirus can travel through the air. However, experts who work on airborne respiratory illnesses say gathering that evidence could take years.
Until health care professionals can come to a consensus, a better tactic to take is to wear a mask or face covering when going out in public. This measure helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus in public settings where other social distancing measures are hard to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Click here to read more information from the CDC on wearing face coverings during the pandemic.
MYTH: Antibiotics can prevent you from getting COVID-19.
According to the CDC, antibiotics are medicines to fight infections caused by bacteria by either killing it or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply. Common infections caused by bacteria include strep throat, whooping cough and urinary tract infections.
The coronavirus is a viral infection, like the common cold, flu and sore throats. Antibiotics cannot prevent an infection from the coronavirus and cannot be used as a treatment for COVID-19.
When researching information about the coronavirus or any medical issue, it pays to be skeptical about any statements or claims that don’t come from credible authorities.
Click here to read more about the myths associated with the coronavirus.
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