COVID-19 misconceptions add to our confusion and to the spread of the disease.
Here are few of the most dangerous COVID-19 myths, followed by the facts.
MYTH: “The virus is not that bad.”
FACT: Scientists say COVID-19 is about five times as deadly as the flu. The pandemic has killed more Americans in a few months than any disease since 1918. The actual death toll is thought to be well below the reported totals.
MYTH: “The virus has mutated, making it less dangerous.”
FACT: While the virus does mutate, scientists have concluded that there is no firm evidence that the mutations have had any effect on how infectious or deadly the virus is.
MYTH: “Six feet apart is good enough.”
FACT: The coronavirus does not always fall to the ground within six feet. Scientists have learned that while large respiratory droplets fall within a few feet, smaller droplets, called aerosols, can go farther. The coronavirus can become airborne and travel throughout a room. Avoid crowded rooms with poor ventilation—and wear a mask, even outside.
MYTH: “Wearing a mask leads to CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency.”
FACT: Millions of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals wear masks constantly and they are just fine. Properly worn, masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Masks are needed to get the pandemic under control.
MYTH: “Herd immunity can end the pandemic.”
FACT: We don’t yet know how much immunity develops from a COVID-19 infection, nor how long it lasts. At least 40%–50% of people would have to develop immunity for the herd effect to work, experts say, maybe as many as 70%. That level of natural immunity would result in at least 1 million deaths here in the US. If a successful vaccine is developed, and most people get the vaccine, the virus will find fewer people to infect.
MYTH: “Drinking alcohol can protect you from the coronavirus.”
FACT: It does not. Alcohol actually increases your risk of becoming infected. Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system and reduces your body’s ability to cope with infectious diseases.
MYTH: “Ingesting garlic or hot peppers will kill coronavirus.”
FACT: Neither food is effective against any virus that’s inside you. Hot peppers do not prevent the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, “There is no evidence that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.”
MYTH: “Kids and young adults are less likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease.”
FACT: COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are now rising at a faster rate in children and teens than among the general public. Many young people are suffering severe long-term health consequences after contracting the disease. A 28-year-old man reported “brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and problems with short-term memory that make reading, writing and speaking harder.”
A 28-year-old woman reported that she now has to use an inhaler, and even speaking makes her feel winded. Furthermore, scientists say schools could be petri dishes for COVID-19 outbreaks, endangering children, their families, and school staff.
The bottom line is that you should research everything you hear. Even the CDC and the government are still learning about this novel coronavirus.