Whether it’s from the president’s own mouth or a faceless user on Twitter, misinformation has abounded and poses substantial threats to public health.
Over the past several weeks, as the novel coronavirus pandemic has spread across the U.S., so have plenty of dangerous myths. Whether it’s from the president’s own mouth or faceless users on Twitter, misinformation has abounded and poses substantial threats to public health.
Here are 11 of the most dangerous myths debunked:
Myth: The coronavirus does not exist.
Incredibly, this is a viral rumor making the rounds thanks to Kelly Brogan, a psychiatrist who contributes to Gywneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop. Brogan published a video spreading discredited pseudoscientific claims that the coronavirus might not actually exist and that symptoms associated with the virus are caused by widespread fear.
To be clear, the coronavirus is very real, and Brogan is dangerously wrong. The Daily Beast thoroughly debunked Brogan’s nonsensical claims, but here’s a quick recap: In her video, Brogan, who is also an AIDS denialist and anti-vaxxer, said she doesn’t believe the widely accepted germ theory of disease and suggested that the news media is being controlled by an unnamed pro-vaccination group.
She also speculated that the United States government is planning “to link our passports with our vaccination records” and gain “totalitarian governmental control not unlike the divide-and-conquer dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust.”
David Colquhoun, a British pharmacologist, told the Daily Beast that Brogan was a “very, very dangerous fantasist.”
Myth: There is a cure for the coronavirus.
There is currently no cure or treatment approved for use on patients with the coronavirus. Despite President Trump’s repeated lies about the drugs, there is no concrete evidence that the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are cures for the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has begun trials of both drugs, as well as several others, to determine their effectiveness in treating the coronavirus, but as it stands, the drugs have NOT been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Similarly, there are no home remedies to prevent COVID-19. Vitamin C, garlic, silver colloid, and sesame oil will not help you.
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Myth: The coronavirus is just like the flu.
Despite President Trump’s comparisons between the two, COVID-19 is much more serious than the flu. While many of the symptoms are similar (aches, fever, cough), COVID-19 can lead to severe shortness of breath and pneumonia, and is far more serious and far more fatal.
The mortality rate of COVID-19 is between 1% and 3%. The flu’s mortality rate, meanwhile, is .1%, meaning the coronavirus is anywhere between 10 and 30 times more deadly.
Myth: If you hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing, it means you don’t have the coronavirus.
“That’s not true,” Dr. Loren Rauch, a doctor at Antelope Valley Hospital in Los Angeles, who has a master’s degree in epidemiology, told BuzzFeed. “That can check if you are anxious or have respiratory compromise,” but not tell you if you have coronavirus.
Myth: Inhaling hot air from a hair dryer can cure the coronavirus.
Do not do this. Despite what a YouTube video and one elected official from Florida think, inhaling hot air will not cure the coronavirus.
Myth: Ibuprofen is dangerous if you have the coronavirus.
According to the World Health Organization, ibuprofen is safe for the treatment of fever for people with COVID-19.
WHO was forced to clarify the claim after a viral WhatsApp post claimed that anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen, made four people with COVID-19 even sicker.
Myth: Gargling warm water will get rid of the coronavirus.
There is zero evidence that gargling warm water with salt or vinegar will eliminate the coronavirus, despite what a viral meme suggests.
“It won’t stop it from getting into the lungs,” Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the New York Times. “What it could do is decrease inflammation, which would make your throat less sore.”
Myth: Your stomach acid will kill the coronavirus if you drink enough water.
A viral list of coronavirus tips falsely attributed to Stanford University and other medical experts includes the false claim that drinking water can “kill” the coronavirus. The most dangerous claim is that drinking water every 15 minutes will wash coronavirus “down through your throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus.”
That claim has been disproven by several experts.
Myth: The coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab.
The coronavirus was NOT created in a Chinese lab, despite what some conspiracy theorists, Republican lawmakers, and media figures think. Multiple scientific reports have found the virus evolved naturally and may have originated in animals.
“Based on the virus genome and properties there is no indication whatsoever that it was an engineered virus,” Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, told the Washington Post.
Myth: Coronavirus was caused by 5G.
There is no connection between the coronavirus and 5G wireless technology. In fact, according to a new scientific study published this month, 5G has no detrimental health effects in general.
Myth: Joe Biden has the coronavirus.
Failed grifter and conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl has been at it again, spreading a fake coronavirus lab test showing that former Vice President Joe Biden is sick with the coronavirus. Biden’s campaign confirmed Wohl’s document was a hoax.
Wohl’s conspiracy never quite took off, but even the New York Times raised questions about Biden’s near-complete disappearance from the public eye last week. The presidential candidate has since re-emerged, making multiple media appearances this week, including interviews with ABC’s The View and MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace.
For more myth-busting and tips on how to actually deal with the coronavirus, head over to the World Health Organization’s website.