Common Myths about Coronavirus Explained

Handwashing

March 03, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this story:
William Fleischman, M.D.

Updated: 2/11/22

Myths and misconceptions surrounding the COVID-19 virus seem to spread faster than the virus itself. 

Emergency physician, William Fleischman, M.D., shared some insight to debunk some of the most common myths about coronavirus. 

Claim: Warm weather will kill the virus.

FALSE

Warmer seasons allow us to spend more time outside, which may help slow transmission of the virus, however the warmer weather itself does not kill the virus. 

Overall, masking, practicing good hygiene, and social distancing are the most important things you can do at this time. 

Claim: Disinfectants can help treat infection.

FALSE

Disinfectants cannot be used to treat infection in a person. Do not consume, inject, inhale or otherwise try to use any disinfectant (including bleach, Lysol, etc) product to treat an infection. This can be extremely hazardous to your health.

Claim: Large amounts of UV light can help treat infection.

FALSE

Ultraviolet (UV) light are used to kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces and on objects, but cannot be used to treat infection in a person. UV light can damage skin, cause burns, and longer term can cause premature aging of skin as well as skin cancer. They should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin.

Claim: You can give COVID-19 to your pets.

TRUE

COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations, according to the CDC. However, as of now, there’s no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the coronavirus.

If you have COVID-19, treat your animals as you would anyone else and avoid contact until you are no longer ill.

Claim: COVID-19 will continue to spread.

TRUE

We should expect to see more cases of coronavirus. As long as the virus is being transmitted among people, more variants are likely to emerge. 

To protect yourself and others, get vaccinated and stay up to date on vaccinations with booster shots. 

Claim: COVID-19 spreads faster than the flu.

UNCLEAR

It’s not yet clear if COVID-19 spreads faster than the flu, however both do spread quite quickly. Like other viruses, coronavirus is spread through droplets that come from the respiratory tract when someone coughs or sneezes, and in some cases through touch.

Claim: Using saline nasal spray will help prevent COVID-19

FALSE

There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with a saline solution or spray protects people from COVID-19 infection.

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent viral respiratory infections.

Claim: If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without discomfort, you don’t have COVID-19. 

FALSE

The fact is, many people infected with COVID-19 will have minor or no symptoms at all and will easily be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds. The only way to know for sure if you have COVID-19 is to get tested.

Claim: Home remedies that include garlic, chlorine, warm water, or lemon juice can help prevent or treat COVID-19 infection. 

FALSE

There is no evidence that such remedies are effective against COVID-19 or any other virus.

Claim: Washing skin with bleach or alcohol is needed to prevent or treat COVID-19 infection. 

FALSE

Soap and water are all that is needed to cleanse the skin of viruses and bacteria. Using harsh chemicals such as bleach (chlorine) or alcohol can cause harm both to skin and when vapors are inhaled.

Claim: Preparations that include silver, such as colloidal silver, can help prevent or treat COVID-19 infection.

FALSE

While silver does have some natural antibiotic properties, there is no evidence that colloidal silver or other silver-containing products are effective against COVID-19 virus or any other virus infection. Silver can be toxic to the brain and kidneys.

Claim: Taking ibuprofen while infected with COVID-19 will make the condition worse.

FALSE

There is currently no evidence of patients with negative effects from using ibuprofen while infected with COVID-19. The usual cautions limiting its use for certain people apply, such as people who:

  • have a history of a strong, unpleasant reaction (hypersensitivity) to aspirin or other NSAIDs
  • have a current or recent stomach ulcer, or you have had one in the past
  • have severe liver disease
  • are taking low-dose aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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