COVID-19: Fact Vs. Fiction

Posted on Apr 2, 2020

Staff in Lima, Peru, discuss plans for COVID testing
Roger Calderon (center), laboratory director of Socios En Salud--as PIH is known in Peru, addresses staff about how they will support Peru's Ministry of Health in processing COVID-19 tests. Photo courtesy of Socios En Salud

There suddenly is so much information circulating about the new coronavirus that it can be hard to know what is fact or fiction. 

To provide and share reliable information, Partners In Health consulted with its infectious disease experts and trusted global health resources to break down prevailing myths related to COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus.

The following is not an exhaustive list of all the myths out there, but it does set straight some of the misinformation that's currently circulating among the public.

MYTH 1: People living in tropical regions don't have to worry about catching the new coronavirus, because such viruses don't survive in warmer climates.

FACT 1: COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.

Source: WHO Myth Busters
 

MYTH 2: The only people who have to worry about contracting, or dying, from COVID-19 are the elderly. This virus doesn't infect children or healthy adults.

FACT 2: Early research in the United States shows that COVID-19 can develop and result in severe disease among people of all ages. Social distancing is universally recommended to slow the spread of the virus.

Source: CDC 

 

MYTH 3: The U.S. has developed a vaccine against the new coronavirus. 

FACT 3: The director of NIAID (National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease) has estimated that this process will take 12 to 18 months from March 2020, and that a commercial vaccine would not be available until after that.

Source: Dr. Megan Murray, PIH's director of research

 

medication stocked on shelves in a rural pharmacy in Malawi
The pharmacy at a clinic inside Neno District Hospital in Malawi. Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health

 

MYTH 4: There is a cure for COVID-19. I've heard that people who take Vitamin C, gargle with hot water, salt and vinegar, or take antimalarial medication get better.

FACT 4: While some western, traditional, or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease.

Source: WHO

 

MYTH 5: Antibiotics are effective against the new coronavirus.

FACT 5:  No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work.

Source: WHO
 

Staff gather for a training on COVID-19 rapid tests in northern Lima, Peru
Staff with Socios En Salud gather for a training on COVID-19 rapid tests in northern Lima. Photo courtesy of Socios En Salud

 

MYTH 6: We're all going to get this virus anyway, so there's no point in taking drastic measures.

FACT 7: Hospitals around the world, including New York City hospitals, are already straining under the onslaught of novel coronavirus cases, even as state officials say the real peak of the outbreak is nearly a month and a half away.

Doctors at the largest public hospital in New York say equipment shortages have resulted in them wearing the same masks for as long as a week. Emergency-room physicians at another hospital are having to reuse gowns. Some large hospitals already have exceeded the capacity of their intensive-care units.

“I’ve seen more cases in the last 10 days of severe respiratory illness than we’ve seen in years,” says Dr. Mangala Narasimhan. “I’m very worried.”

Source: Wall Street Journal
 

MYTH 7: The virus can live for at least 12 hours on a metal surface.

FACT 8: The novel coronavirus was viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.

  • It was viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours after being put on cardboard.


Source: CNN Health / New England Journal of Medicine
 

MYTH 8: Drink plenty of water! If the virus is in your throat, you can wash it into your stomach, where it will be killed by digestive acids.

FACT 9: Infections often begin after we’ve been exposed to thousands or millions of viral particles, so sweeping a few down the throat is unlikely to have much of an impact. 

Source: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

a public water pump in rural Malawi
Children collect water from a public water pump in rural Malawi. (Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health)


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