COVID-19 Prevention Methods That Don’t Work

November 04, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:

Throughout the pandemic, a variety of myths and rumors have spread on social media, suggesting unconventional ways that people might protect themselves from getting COVID-19… but they don’t work.

In actuality, the best ways to protect yourself are:

  • getting a COVID-19 vaccine
  • wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
  • staying six feet away from people outside of your household
  • washing your hands often, or using hand sanitizer
  • avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces

Here are some of the common COVID-19 prevention methods we’re seeing online and why they aren’t a good idea:

Myth: Taking antibiotics can prevent or cure COVID-19.

Truth: Antibiotics don’t have an effect on COVID-19.

Many people believe that antibiotics can cure everything that ails them, but antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus. If you’re sick with a viral infection, antibiotics don’t fight them, nor do they prevent viral illness.

Myth: Drinking alcohol can prevent COVID-19, because the alcohol kills the virus.

Truth: Alcoholic beverages don’t kill the virus that causes COVID-19, nor prevent the illness.

Alcohol has no disinfectant effect when you drink it, even though hand sanitizer – which contains alcohol – disinfects your skin. Drinking vodka, wine or beer won’t kill the virus if it’s in your system, and having liquor on your breath won’t protect you from inhaling the virus.

Drinking too much may have the opposite effect: It may lower the effectiveness of your immune system. Don’t drink more than usual, with hopes that you’ll be protecting yourself from COVID-19, because you may become more susceptible.

Myth: Eating garlic can protect against COVID-19.

Truth: Garlic has no effect against COVID-19.

If you love garlicky food, there’s no reason to skimp on this heart-healthy ingredient. But don’t expect garlic to keep you safe from COVID-19; it simply doesn’t have an effect. Some research has shown that garlic may have some antibiotic properties, which may make it effective against certain types of bacteria. But COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria.

Myth: Using a nasal saline rinse can prevent COVID-19.

Truth: Nasal saline rinses don’t prevent illnesses of any kind, including COVID-19.

Some research shows that people with the common cold who use nasal saline rinses may recover from their colds more quickly. However, no research has found that nasal rinses prevent people from getting sick in the first place, whether from the common cold or COVID-19.

Next Steps & Resources:

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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