- Misinformation about the novel coronavirus is rampant.
- Despite what you might’ve heard, you cannot get the virus from an imported package or a pet, and there’s no evidence that garlic, marijuana, or sesame oil will help treat it.
- The coronavirus is also not a product of 5G internet or billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.
- The best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to stay at least six feet away from others when outside the home, and wash hands frequently and judiciously with soap and water.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The pandemic virus – which first emerged on scientists’ radars in Wuhan, China at the tail end of 2019 – is now found on every continent, save frozen Antarctica, with the number of new infections reported around the globe continuing to soar.
Data Ticker – Covid 19 Global and US
There is no known treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus, which scientists think originated in bats and may have hopped into an intermediary host animal before infecting people.
Still, many are peddling misinformation about where the virus comes from, why it’s here, and how to “cure” it, as people around the globe hunger for easy answers to combat the spread of this virus, and the illness it causes, COVID-19.
Here are a few of the most egregious claims we’ve heard so far, as well as some of the best advice from experts on how to actually stay healthy, safe, and disease-free right now.
First, it’s important to know there is no cure-all treatment or medicine doctors can prescribe for COVID-19. Some trials are underway, but the early results are not great.
Treatment for the novel coronavirus is a lot like the flu. Patients are advised to rest up and drink plenty of fluids.
For more severe COVID-19 cases, it’s best to get to a hospital, as people who are having trouble breathing may need oxygen support.
The antiviral drug remdesivir is helping some people recover faster from their COVID-19 infections, but it’s not proving much help for people who have some of the most life-threatening cases of this virus.
Hydroxychloroquine – an anti-malarial drug which has been pushed by President Trump as both a potential treatment for and prevention to COVID-19 infection – is not faring very well in clinical trials so far, and it is triggering serious heart issues in some patients.
The World Health Organisation recently temporarily suspended its study of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment, citing potential safety concerns, and another large-scale trial of the drug as a potential preventative treatment for healthcare workers has also been put on hold.France, Italy and Belgium all stopped using hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients this week.
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus yet.
Though the virus is believed to have originated in bats, there’s no evidence that meat-eating is linked to the coronavirus, and you can’t get it from your pets.
The most common way people spread the coronavirus is by having close contact with one another (usually virus particles get passed around when others are within six feet of an infected person).
Scientists don’t think that it’s likely the virus originated in a Chinese wet market, where people coexist in cramped quarters alongside animals both alive and dead, but rather that the market may have played host to a super spreader event, where one sick person might’ve infected a whole new crowd.
It’s not accurate to say the virus is linked to eating meat, as PETA UK has.
“We get new viruses all the time,” Dr. Robert Amler, the dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College, told Business Insider at a coronavirus conference earlier this year. “There’s so much commerce and exchange between people that it is fully expected that some of these cases will spread.”
The virus is rather fragile outside the human body, which means you won’t get it from a package or an envelope.
Some people have raised concerns that they might be able to contract the coronavirus from imported goods packed by people in other countries.
But public-health experts point out that the virus can live for only about a day, at best, on cardboard, and the main way it’s being spread between people is through close, sustained contact.
“The virus needs people to transmit between,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation’s technical lead for COVID-19,said during a press conference earlier this month. “If people are in close contact with one another and you have an infected person, it will transmit to another person through these respiratory droplets.”
High-speed 5G internet is not the reason the coronavirus exists.
There is no good evidence that 5G radio waves (which operate on the low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum, alongside radios and microwaves) are inherently or especially dangerous to people’s health, or that they somehow create or amplify illnesses like COVID-19.
This hasn’t stopped people from attempting to burn down cell service towers, and physically attack, stab, and threaten the lives of broadband engineers trying to do regular maintenance during the pandemic.
“The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, particularly in a time when we are asking people to stay at home and not see relatives and friends,” UK National Health Service medical director Stephen Powis said in April, stressing the same phone networks are critical to emergency services and health workers.
“I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency,” he said.
Facebook told Business Insider the platform would “remove false claims which link COVID-19 to 5G technology and could lead to physical harm.”
Bill Gates isn’t trying to control the world with the virus.
Conspiracy theorists and conservative pundits online have suggested Gates somehow masterminded the pandemic, pointing to the fact that the billionaire philanthropist has been eerily warning of a scenario much like COVID-19 for years.
“It’s ironic that you take someone who’s doing their best to get the world ready and putting, in my case, billions of dollars into these tools for infectious diseases, and really trying to solve broadly infectious diseases – including those that cause pandemics,” Gates said in an interview with Chinese broadcaster GCTN. “But we’re in a crazy situation, so there’s going to be crazy rumours.”
All the evidence we have suggests the virus is naturally-occurring, and was not made in a lab.
Just because there’s a Wuhan Institute of Virology near where the virus was first spotted, where researchers study infectious diseases – including coronaviruses – that does not mean that there’s good reason to be suspicious the virus was created there.
“It’s highly unlikely this was a lab accident,” Jonna Mazet, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, who has worked with and trained WIV researchers in the past, recently told Business Insider – echoing a chorus of US intelligence officials who say with near-certainty that the virus is naturally-occurring.
Though the virus appears to be shifting somewhat as it travels the globe, the virus mutations are not necessarily any more dangerous than the original human strain, either.
COVID-19 is not like the seasonal flu. Evidence so far suggests it is far more deadly.
Globally, the virus has a roughly 7% death rate, though experts suspect the true figure (which we’d know if everyone was tested) may be lower, and closer to 1%.
Still, even with a 1% death rate, the coronavirus is about 10 times deadlier than a seasonal flu.
In less than four months, it’s killed 100,000 people in the US – already tens of thousands more people than the flu kills annually there.
Though the most severe cases of the virus tend to pop up in adults, kids can get and transmit COVID-19 too, and some suffer life-threatening complications.
Though Swiss public health authorities have told ageing grandparents it’s perfectly OK to hug their grandkids during the pandemic (suggesting that kids under 10 can’t transmit the virus to their elders) many other health authorities around the world disagree.
“Children are likely playing a role in transmission and spread of COVID-19,” one US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention study said.
Children’s coronavirus illnesses tend to be more mild than adults, but a few have developed deadly heart issues thought have been prompted by the virus, a condition now being labelled as “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.”
“We cannot say universally that it’s a mild disease in children,” the World Health Organisation’s Maria Van Kerkhove said during a press conference on May 1. “But the vast majority of children who have been identified as having COVID-19 have had mild disease.”
The widely-shared ‘Plandemic’ movie is just flat wrong.
“‘Plandemic’ makes a lot of claims that, independently, don’t stand up to scrutiny,” as Business Insider’s Gabby Landsverk and Aylin Woodward recently reported. “But presented all together in a rapid-fire style, they can seem to make sense – a rhetorical strategy, called ‘the Gish Gallop.'”
You can read more about everything “Plandemic” got wrong in their recent point by point expose.
Do not use any “miracle mineral solution” to combat the virus. It’s industrial bleach, and it is dangerous and unhelpful.
As Business Insider’s Gabby Landsverk previously reported, “the ‘miracle mineral solution,’ as it’s known online (MMS for short), is a solution of 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water.”
The substance is not a cure for the coronavirus, but it is dangerous to human health, and it can prompt severe vomiting, diarrhoea, low blood pressure, and acute liver failure.
Outside the body, however, bleach-based cleaners are helpful for keeping surfaces virus-free.
The World Health Organisation said “bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, ether solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and cholorform” are all great ways to kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, where transmission is possible, if not probable.
But these chemicals are dangerous when people put them on their skin, under their noses, or in their mouths, and they have “little or no impact on the virus” that way, the WHO said.
Likewise, algae is not a treatment for the coronavirus.
There is some evidence that red marine algae may inactivate certain viruses, like the ones that cause common cold sores (herpes). But the same hasn’t been shown of the novel coronavirus.
“The problem is that there are some 4,000 species of such algae, some of which may work against some viral infections but not against others,” the McGill Office for Science and Society wrote online. “Without any regulations about proper labelling and without any requirement for verification of contents, it is a crap shoot.”
Nevertheless, at least one “holistic” healer, Gabriel Cousens, told his followers in a email that they should use red algae to prevent and potentially treat the coronavirus, even though no scientist has ever studied the effect of red algae on this virus.
“I can’t make a claim for the effectiveness of red algae against the coronavirus,” Cousens said.
Nor will eating garlic or sesame oil do much to cure a case.
The WHO also said garlic “may have some antimicrobial properties,” but there’s no reason to believe it can ward off the coronavirus, and sesame oil (either applied topically or ingested) won’t kill the virus either.
Marijuana is not a cure for this coronavirus.
Any posts you’ve seen on Facebook suggesting that “scientist are shocked to discover that weed kills coronavirus” are not true.
There is good evidence that marijuana contains antibacterial cannabinoids that can kill bacteria. This is why scientists suspect weed may one day help treat antibiotic-resistant diseases, but again, the novel coronavirus is a viral illness, not a bacterial one.
Scientists are, however, conducting some early-stage research into whether cannabinoid treatments (like a CBD-based mouthwash) could help prevent people from catching the coronavirus in the first place, by changing the levels of ACE2 receptors in the body that the virus latches on to. Much, much more research will be needed on the subject to know for sure, though.
Neither is cocaine.
Once again, ignore any miracle cocaine coronavirus cures that might pop up on Facebook.
The truth is that cocaine is a highly addictive substance and can cause respiratory problems. That is certainly no help when you’re dealing with a virus that (in severe cases) can make it difficult to breathe.
In the same vein, cigarettes aren’t helping anyone fight off COVID-19 infections.
French hospitals have seen a surprisingly low number of COVID-19 patients who are daily smokers, leading some clinicians there to wonder, might nicotine help prevent coronavirus infections?
Public health experts don’t think that’s the case, though.
“Smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19,” the US Food and Drug Administration said in a coronavirus q&a, posted online.
Smoking, instead of helping fight off coronavirus infections, “puts people at higher risk for being put on a ventilator, being in an ICU, and for dying,” Van Kerkhove told reporters earlier this month. “We know the harms of smoking and we know that smokers, if they do get infected with COVID-19, have a higher risk of severe disease.”
In fact, researchers in China recently noted that “smokers were 1.4 times more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation, or die compared to non-smokers,” as Insider’s Anna Medaris Miller previously reported.
French researchers are currently investigating whether wearing nicotine patches might help protect people from catching the coronavirus. Evidence so far suggests – quite to the contrary – that nicotine exposure, even when smokeless, makes COVID-19 infections more likely to take hold in a person’s body, not less.
Please do not hold your breath for 10 seconds in an effort to prove you don’t have the coronavirus. This doesn’t work.
“Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort does not mean you are free from the coronavirus disease,” the World Health Organisation says on its coronavirus myth busting site.
“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.”
People of colour do not have any special immunity to the virus.
The idea that melanin in dark skin might help protect people from getting infected with the virus has been tossed around on various social media platforms online, but the truth is that people of all colours have been getting sick during this pandemic.
“Ethnicity and genetics have no influence on recovery from the virus, and black people don’t have more antibodies than white people,” Professor Amadou Alpha Sall, director of the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, recently told AFP.
In fact, African-American communities have been disproportionately hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak in the US, in part because of racial inequities in the country’s healthcare system.
Dr. Rana Hogarth, author of “Medicalizing Blackness,” told CitiLab the idea that black skin might be more resistant to the virus than white, even if mentioned in jest, is still a dangerous one.
“I can understand the idea of saying black people as a group have suffered so much, particularly if we look at medical history, that we’re going to flip the script,” Hogarth said. “But let’s just pump the brakes on this, because there were very real moments in history where African Americans were believed to be immune or were peculiar in some way, and it wasn’t seen as a bonus.”
Coconut oil is smooth and rich, but it also has no place in coronavirus treatment.
At least one health official in the Philippines suggested that coconut oil was “being looked into” to kill the new coronavirus, but that’s not true in any serious way.
There are some studies, in mice, that have shown coconut oil might possibly help kill bacteria that cause some Staphylococcus (staph) infections. But that doesn’t mean the same will ever be true in people.
In fact, scientists don’t even know if our bodies are capable of making the compound derived from a coconut’s lauric acid that could provide such a bacteria-killing bonus. Besides, the novel coronavirus is quite different from staph.
It’s still unclear whether vitamin C can do much for someone with the coronavirus.
Some coronavirus patients in New York and China have been administered high doses of intravenous vitamin C in the hopes that the treatment might provide them an anti-inflammatory benefit, lessening the severity of their infections, and helping people recover faster from COVID-19 illnesses.
But there’s not enough evidence yet to say conclusively that vitamin C has had a great effect.
For common colds, taking vitamin C regularly provides only marginal benefits to highly athletic people like marathon runners and soldiers.
Rinsing your nose with saline or gurgling mouthwash will not prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Yes, some kinds of mouthwash can kill microbes in your mouth, and rinsing your nostrils out (like with a neti pot) can feel good if you have a stuffy nose, but neither will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There are a few basic, science-backed things everyone can do to prevent the spread of this novel coronavirus. No. 1, wash your hands.
Frequently, and with soap and water. This ensures that when we eat, or touch our eyes, nose, or mouth, virus particles that may be hitching a ride on our hands won’t get the chance to infect us.
“If I could teach one thing to the public that would prevent most of the diseases that I have to deal with, it would be wash your hands and teach your children how to wash hands,” Dr. Sherlita Amler, an adjunct professor of public health at New York Medical College who is commissioner of health in Westchester County, said at a recent conference. “Believe it or not, most people do not have much of an idea how they really should wash their hands, and in fact, I think some people actually try to do it without getting their hands wet.”
Amler said it was important to use soap and was “the frictional movement of your hands that actually gets the bacteria off of your hands.”
Hand sanitizer is helpful in a pinch, but nothing beats a good 20-second rub with soap and water followed by a dry-off with a paper towel.
And No. 2, keep your distance from other people, as much as possible. Wear a mask in public if you’re sick, or think you might be.
“If you’re ill, your family members are ill, stay home, don’t spread those diseases,” Amler said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.