21 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors
There's a lot of misinformation about coronavirus. Here are the most prominent myths, debunked by doctors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a seemingly endless list of tips to follow to stay safe, but there are just as many mistruths and myths about coronavirus out there. Washing one's hands and limiting contact with as many people as possible (AKA social distancing) are still the best ways to both stay healthy and not spread the virus. But a stubborn amount of misinformation is spreading just as fast as COVID-19 itself.
To help you stay educated, the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous other doctors and reputable medical institutions, such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, are debunking the myths surrounding COVID-19. Here are the 21 biggest ones you need to stop believing. And for more facts to get acquainted with, check out 13 Actual Facts That Debunk Common Coronavirus Myths.
Myth: COVID-19 can spread over 5G networks.
Technology and cellphone signals are not linked to coronavirus, despite what you may have heard. "Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks," WHO states. "COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks."
That said, it is wise to clean your phone itself, which could be harboring germs.
Myth: Rinsing your nose with saline will prevent COVID-19.
Although this nifty saline trick can help soothe symptoms of the common cold, it does not prevent or cure the coronavirus, according to WHO.
Myth: Wiping your body with Clorox can kill the coronavirus.
Yes, the disinfectant product is helpful when it comes to household cleaning, but Clorox wipes should not be applied to the skin. In fact, they could even cause more harm than good if they were to get in your eyes or mouth. "The wipes are meant to disinfect hard surfaces—they're not meant to put on the skin because it can be harmful," Eudene Harry, MD, the medical director for Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Orlando, Florida, previously told Best Life. And for more on staying clean and healthy, check out 15 Expert Tips for Disinfecting Your House for Coronavirus.
Myth: Consuming breast milk prevents COVID-19.
It has been reported that there's been a surge in people purchasing human breast milk due to the belief that it will help prevent the COVID-19 virus. But of course, that's totally untrue. Dyan Hes, MD, founder of Gramercy Pediatrics, plainly told CBS News: "Do not buy breast milk to prevent COVID. That is not going to help you."
Myth: There's a coronavirus vaccine out there.
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus currently available. According to the experts at Johns Hopkins: "There is no vaccine for the new coronavirus right now. Scientists have already begun working on one, but developing a vaccine that is safe and effective in human beings will take many months."
How long exactly? According to Anthony Fauci, MD, the head of National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, 12 to 18 months. Fauci said in an Instagram Live interview with NBA star Steph Curry that the first phase of vaccine testing takes three to four months and the second takes eight months, totaling a year to a year and a half.
"The first thing you've got to do is make sure it's safe. When you find out it's safe and that it induces the kind of response you want it to, then you do it in a lot of people," Fauci said. "The first trial is, like, 45 people. Then you go into hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That's what takes the extra eight months… If we really push, we hope that we will know by the time we get into next winter whether or not we have something that works." And for more on a potential COVID-19 cure, check out 5 Facts We Know About Remdesivir, the Possible Coronavirus Cure.
Myth: COVID-19 was deliberately created and released by people.
As those at Johns Hopkins plainly state, this myth is 100-percent false. "Viruses can change over time," the experts continue. "Occasionally, a disease outbreak happens when a virus that is common in an animal such as a pig, bat, or bird undergoes changes and passes to humans. This is likely how the new coronavirus came to be."
Myth: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don't have coronavirus.
Despite what you may have seen on social media, being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort does not mean you don't have COVID-19 or any other lung disease.
According to WHO, "The best way to confirm if you have the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous." And for more on where to get tested, check out Here's How to Find COVID-19 Testing Options Near You.
Myth: Ordering products from China could give you COVID-19.
COVID-19 is mainly spread through liquid droplets. So while it's technically possible that a product ordered from China could house a virus-infected bit of liquid, the odds of that happening are almost impossible.
"I don't think we need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in, because those types of surfaces… the virus might live there for a very short time," Fauci told Trevor Noah on the Mar. 26 episode of Noah's at-home The Daily Show. "But people say, 'Should I get a package from a grocery store that says "Made in China"?' I wouldn't worry about that. That's not the issue."
Myth: A change in temperature can kill coronavirus.
According to WHO, "There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases." And they also note, "you can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is."
"The virology of COVID-19 does not diminish in warm temperatures," Rocio Salas-Whalen, MD, of New York Endocrinology previously told Best Life. "Although the virus may have a seasonal cycle, it is not reasonable to expect a huge decline in transmission due to warmer weather alone. We see the largest decrease in infections when people refrain from being in locations with poor ventilation and/or large crowds."
Myth: Taking a hot bath will protect you against coronavirus.
There may be relaxing benefits to a hot bath, but it won't keep you from contracting coronavirus. "Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19," WHO asserts. "Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower."
Myth: Mosquitoes can pass coronavirus from person to person.
There is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can spread via mosquitoes, according to WHO. "The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose," the experts note.
Myth: Drinking bleach can cure coronavirus.
Drinking bleach may sound absurd to some, but there are those who believe it can cure the coronavirus. In fact, enough people were buying into this alleged "cure" that the FDA warned against the practice in an official statement. "Drinking any of these chlorine dioxide product can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration," they explained. "Some product labels claim that vomiting and diarrhea are common after ingesting the product. They even maintain that such reactions are evidence that the product is working. That claim is false."
Myth: Consuming colloidal silver can kill COVID-19.
In February, a natural health expert appeared on televangelist Jim Bakker's show and claimed that colloidal silver can kill bacteria and viruses within 12 hours. Though the "expert" admitted colloidal silver hadn't been tested on COVID-19 yet, the rumor caught on.
In truth, "colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health," according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). As a result, the state of Missouri filed a lawsuit against Bakker and his production company for advertising colloidal silver as a false cure for the coronavirus.
Myth: Boiled garlic can cure the coronavirus.
In March, a message went viral on social media that suggested that boiling garlic in water could "cure" the coronavirus. But, according to WHO, "Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."
Facebook caught on and tagged the post with the following statement: "The primary claims in the information are factually inaccurate."
Myth: Drinking alcohol can prevent you from contracting COVID-19.
Some people believe that drinking alcohol will prevent them from contracting coronavirus—so many, in fact, that WHO had to address it and debunk the myth.
It turns out, the opposite is actually true. Paul Sasha Nestadt, MD, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Anxiety Disorders Clinic, told Global Health Now, "There are risk factors with isolation, the lack of a schedule, and if alcohol is just there in the house with you. People with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also at higher risk when stressed."
Myth: Aiming a blow dryer up your nose can cure you of coronavirus.
There are some people who believe that aiming a hairdryer up your nose will cure you from COVID-19. In fact, Florida politician Bryant Culpepper went so far as to brag about his background as a paramedic as he publicly promoted this "cure" that he saw "one of the foremost doctors who has studied the coronavirus" reveal on cable TV. The belief is that the hot air travels up into your nostrils and kills the contagion. But, as you likely already assumed, this "cure" is just a bunch of hot air. Hairdryers are good for drying hair, not curing or preventing coronavirus.
Myth: Hand dryers kill COVID-19.
Just like hairdryers don't kill COVID-19, hand dryers don't either. WHO plainly states: "Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV." Washing your hands regularly, however, is a definite must.
Myth: Drinking lots of water will help you avoid COVID-19.
Drinking lots of water through the course of the day is good for you, but will it help you avoid coronavirus? Nope. A frequently shared meme on Facebook, Twitter, and on text cites an unnamed Japanese doctor who claims drinking water every 15 minutes washes any virus down the esophagus so it can't get into your lungs. Turns out, this isn't true at all. Sure, it's good to hydrate, but it won't keep the COVID-19 contagion away.
Myth: Essential oils and herbal supplements are effective ways to fight coronavirus.
Nope, essential oils do not prevent coronavirus either. But that hasn't stopped a few companies from trying to sell their products as such. The FDA called out Idaho-based company Herbal Amy for selling "unapproved and misbranded products related to coronavirus disease." Whether it's traditional Chinese herbs or CBD/hemp related supplements, there is currently zero evidence that herb consumption will do anything to fight or cure COVID-19
Myth: UV disinfection lamps can kill coronavirus.
Again, WHO warns, this is yet another coronavirus myth. "UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation," they note.
Myth: Malaria drugs can cure COVID-19.
"To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus," WHO says plainly. Sadly, a man in his 60s in Arizona died after self-medicating with chloroquine phosphate in an apparent attempt to cure himself from the novel coronavirus. He and his wife reportedly ingested the household chemical, which is commonly used to clean fish tanks, in late March amid reports that hydroxychloroquine—which is approved by the FDA for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis—can cure coronavirus.
Responding to the incident, Daniel Brooks, MD, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, said in a statement, "We understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus. But self-medicating is not the way to do so."
Similarly, Fauci told Noah that "there is no proven, safe, and effective direct therapy for coronavirus disease." And though some clinical trials are underway, it'll be months before anything is proven.
Additional reporting by Alex Daniel.