“The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this, you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that may occur by touching your eyes, mouth and nose.”
That’s it; that’s all you need to know. Although the internet seems to have a whole lot of handy tips to beat COVID-19, many are misinformed at best. In her usual upbeat and informative style, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard clears up a whole lot of increasingly prevailing myths about the novel coronavirus that can be found across social media. With clear sarcasm, she breaks them down from the useless to the downright dangerous.
Jessica starts with the pervasive myth that you don’t have the virus if you’re able to hold your breath without coughing. Well, guess what: that’s just plain wrong! “Whilst being unable to hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing may occur when you have fibrosis, it is not a key diagnostic tool,” she points out, further stating that many people with COVID-19 do not get lung fibrosis. Just because you held your breath without coughing does not mean you are in the clear.
Coronavirus only affects older people is one of those myths everybody has heard, whether you believe it or not. “People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus,” Jessica shares, and whilst it is especially dangerous to those with respiratory or immune disorders, anyone can become ill. What’s more, even if you yourself don’t get ill, you could still be unknowingly carrying the virus and transmitting it to others. This is known as being asymptomatic.
A theory that has popped up more than once is that antibiotics will protect against the virus. In fact, it comes up when any new illness emerges. Smartly, Jessica reiterates that antibiotics only protect against bacteria. There’s a difference between viral infections and bacterial infections, people!
Look, we’ll be honest, we laughed at the idea that drinking water every 15 minutes would flush out the virus by washing it into our stomach, where it would be killed by our natural acids. However, as Jessica is quick to point out, this is “not a thing”. Clearly, some people believe it though, so just to reiterate: no respiratory virus can simply be washed into your stomach. (But remember to stay hydrated whilst isolating! Make sure you’re drinking your eight glasses of water a day!)
The general idea that some form of heat will kill COVID-19 came next. To be clear, drinking hot tea, sitting in a hot bath and/or standing in the sun will not kill the virus. As Jessica points out, “How are you going to expose your lungs to the sun?” Following on from this, she adds that the virus will not simply go away when the weather gets warmer. We know already that it does spread in hot and humid conditions, as well as in cold and dry ones, so, unfortunately, the summer will not save us.
A harmful myth that Jessica brings up is regarding spraying alcohol or even chlorine on yourself in order to kill the virus. THIS IS NOT SAFE. We repeat, it’s not safe. The only thing this will do is burn your skin and cause extensive harm upon entering your mouth and eyes, so, please, only use disinfectants to clean household surfaces, such as your kitchen counter and your bathroom. We’re begging you.
Eating garlic prevents infection is another fun suggestion with no evidence backing it up. “It’s a virus, not a vampire,” Jessica cuts in before politely reminding everyone that eating a lot of garlic can, in fact, inflame your throat. Another myth regards supplements. Whilst vitamin C and other supplements can boost your immune system, they will not magically fight off the virus. Jessica also encourages people to think carefully before buying such products, citing one promoted by an influencer contains a bleaching agent, as well as the suggestion of drinkable silver being promoted on TV. Ultimately, with no evidence they will help at all, Jessica pleads, “Please, do not take miracle cures suggested by the internet. You are smarter than that.”
The possibly dangerous idea that having a runny nose means you have a cold, not the coronavirus, has been spread on every form of social media. Whilst many people with the virus will not get a runny nose, having different symptoms to others doesn’t mean you don’t actually have it and, as Jessica points out, you could have COVID-19 and a common cold at the same time.
Do we even need to address the suggestion that positivity can prevent infection? We thought not..
Jessica then addresses the prevalent myth that face masks will protect you from the virus. Face masks are not designed to block viral particles, but they can prevent you from spreading the disease if you happen to have it. This means that, unless you’re sick, you shouldn’t be wearing them. Leave the masks for the nurses and doctors working on the frontlines in hospitals!
An equally common myth is that you are less likely to get coronavirus than the flu. This is fundamentally incorrect. First of all, based on the virus’ basic reproduction number values alone, coronavirus is more contagious than the flu. We also currently have no vaccine for COVID-19, as opposed to the fairly effective seasonal flu vaccine that a lot of people get each year. Jessica then addresses the fearmongering around the disease and the idea that getting COVID-19 is a death sentence. A very small percentage of people experience severe symptoms, leading to hospitalisation due to respiratory problems, and an even smaller percentage of those die from the virus. However, you should still take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and others.
Finally, Jessica addresses the worrying myth that it’s unsafe to be around Chinese people, food and packages. “This isn’t an excuse for blatant racism,” she explains before breaking down these racist perceptions, pointing out that Chinese people are not more susceptible than others and that being Chinese doesn’t mean you have the virus.
With evidence from medical professionals and the World Health Organization, Jessica breaks downs these myths and reminds everyone to regularly clean their hands, all while emphasising the importance of social distancing.
But if that wasn’t enough… there’s more! Find out what Typhoid Mary can teach us about the coronavirus in Jessica’s new video. We are truly spoilt.