Sunday, April 5, 2020

Myths vs Scientific facts| The Truth Behind the COVID-19 Virus

There’s been a lot of false news and hoaxes going around social media on hoe to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus. As the COVID-19 continues to make headlines all over the world, lies have greatly surrounded the disease. It is important you know what’s true and untrue.

We’ve compiled a list of pervasive myths about the coronavirus to separate facts from fiction

Myth 1: Coronavirus only affects older adults and young children

According to the WHO and CDC reports, the COVID-19 does not discriminate against age, gender and rate. People with greater risk include those with low immune system, adult over 60 years, individuals with preexisting health conditions such as asthma, CVD, hypertension etc.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What we know about the virus so far

Myth 2: Spraying alcohol; chlorine on the skin, swallowing or gargling bleach can protect you from the COVID-19

Doing all these only puts you in harms way. These practices are dangerous and cause harm to your mucus membranes. Chemicals such as bleach, chlorine, alcohol cause harm if swallowed. They could irritate the eyes and skin leading to life long damages including death. These chemicals though can be used to disinfect your house and offices.

The WHO recommends the following measures to protect yourself against the virus.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Use an alcohol based hand sanitizers containing at least 70% alcohol if water is not available.
  • Avoid social gatherings and close contact with people
  • Avoid coughing close to people, use your sleeves or tissue

Myth 3: You can catch the virus only if you stay with someone longer than 10 minutes

It doesn’t matter how long you stay with someone before you catch the virus. It can be less or more than 10 minutes. You’re at risk if the person is sick and coughs directly at you or if asymptomatic Most patient do not show signs within the 14 days incubation period)

Myth 4 Gargling, Swallowing and Rinsing your Mouth and Nose with Salt water can protect against the coronavirus

Currently, there’s no supporting evidence that proves this to be true. Studies indicate that these methods may reduce symptoms associated with the upper respiratory tract infection but not against the COID-19 virus.

Myth 5:  Children and Infants are at higher risk of getting infected

Research shows that all age groups can in fact become infected. Yes, children are likely to become infected, although preliminary studies show that they develop less severe symptoms.

Myth 6: All Infected people show symptoms

New research proves that asymptomatic carriers may still transmit coronavirus. Asymptomatic carriers display no symptoms. The COVID-19 disease causes a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe.

Health officials advise that if you’ve travelled to countries affected by the virus or live in an affected community, you should get yourself tested even if you do not show symptoms.

Myth 7: Pets can spread the Coronavirus

According to the South China Morning post, a dog in China who contracted a “low-level infection” from its owner tested positive to the COVID-19. Although the infected Pomeranian dog did not show any sign of the illness, t just shows that dogs are vulnerable to picking up the virus from humans.

Currently there’s no evidence to suggest pets can be infected with the virus at least not humans.

Myth 8: The COVID-19 is the same thing as a flu, even less deadly

COVID-19 and flu share common symptoms ranging from mild to pneumonia like complications. However, coronavirus is more deadly than the flu. Recent data suggest that the mortality rate is 20 times higher than that of the flu.

Myth 9: Everyone infected with the Coronavirus dies.

This is so untrue. A study published Feb 18 by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that about 81% of COVID-19 cases were mild.

As we’ve explained only a few percentages of people are at higher risk. This include:

  • Immunocompromised people
  • People with long term chronic disease
  • Adults above 60 years

 READ MORE: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment | Who is at risk

About 80% of people according to the WHO study will experience the mild form of the disease. Severe illness is seen in about 4% of people. This includes difficulty in breathing and require supplemental oxygen. Critical conditions are seen in about 5% of people, meaning they may experience multi-organ failure and even septic shock.

While this information shouldn’t be a cause of panic, there’s a greater need for you to protect your friends and family by self-isolation to halt the spread of the COVID-19.

Myth 10: Natural herbal products can protect you from coronavirus

The WHO has not recommended any medicine for the treatment of COVID-19 virus although treatments are under crucial investigations and await clinical trials.

Herbs such as garlic only help boost your immune system but do not protect you against the COVID-19

Myth 11: A coronavirus vaccine is available and circulating.

Developing a vaccine takes a lot of months. It involves strenuous scientific research and months of clinical trials to ensure its safety and efficacy in humans. No COVID-19 is currently available. The WHO recommends appropriate and supportive care for those infected.

Myth 12: Antibiotics can be used to treat the COVID-19

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as the name suggest is a virus not a bacterium. Patient are only administered antibiotics if a bacterial co-infection is noticed.

Myth 13: Ibuprofen only makes the COVID-19 worse

This has not been backed up by scientific evidence. Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is used to reduce fever, pain or inflammation which is normally associated with the COVID-19 virus. No available information suggest that ibuprofen should be avoided.

Myth 14: Holding your breath for 10 seconds proves you dot have the virus

This is false. Holding your breath more than 20 seconds does not prove you don’t have the virus. Proper diagnosis is done a the hospital were variety of test performed by a doctor.

Myth 15: Drinking water every 15 minutes will flush the virus from your mouth

Claims have been made that the coronavirus remains in the throat for days, makes you cough and causes pains before it reaches the lungs. It advises people to drink water at a 15 minutes interval so as to flush the virus away, since it can’t withstand the acidity of the stomach.

This claim is FALSE, staying hydrated is important but no data suggests drinking water will prevent the COVID-19 from getting to your airways and lungs.

Myth 16: Heat gets rid of the Coronavirus

Coronavirus can be transmitted in both hot and cold climates according to the WHO. COVID_19 is yet to be determined as a seasonal virus like influenza. Seasonal virus lose their ability to infect cells as the temperature rises or reduces. Heating up your face with hot water does not protect you from the virus either.

Myth 17: The launch of the 5G network caused the Coronavirus

As a fifth generation of wireless communication technology supporting cellular data network, the 5G network has a lot of controversies surrounding its launch. The network is used in top countries such as the UK, USA, Germany etc. 5G is said to be dangerous with high energy radiation and damaging effect in human beings, causing cancer and other health issues including the COVID-19 virus. Since the advent of the coronavirus there’s been no documented link between cellular wireless network with cancer. The 5G network can’t be responsible. The Coronavirus has been around decades before the wireless networks were born.

Myth 18: Using a face mask will protect you from the COVID-19

Wearing face mask does not offer protection against the Coronavirus. Surgical face mask isn’t designed to block airborne viruses. Health workers use them to protect against infection as they tightly fit round the face. They prevent the exchange of fluids from cough or sneeze from the wearers mouth to the patient and vice versa.

Light disposable face mask sold to the public are unlikely to offer such protection. Droplets and viral particle can penetrate directly through the material. The do not fit tightly round the face, furthermore people can still touch their eyes and mouth with infected hands. Special Respiratory mask such as N95 have the capacity of protecting against airborne diseases.

Generally, face mask should only be worn if you feel you’ve been infected to reduce the spread of the virus. Washing your hands regularly and using alcohol-based sanitizers offer more protection against the virus.

Myth 19: Ordering things online from China will make you sick

Currently, there’s no data available to support this claim. Scientist are still studying the virus to learn its method of transmission. The virus is known not to last very long on surfaces. Your products on transit from China take days, weeks and even months before delivery which is very less likely to spread the virus. The virus is said to only spread from droplets of an infected person’s sneeze or cough same with similar virus such as MERS and SARS.

Myth 20: The COVID-19 was created and released from a lab in China

There’s no evidence backing this claim of it being manmade. The genetic make of diseases, virus inclusive changes over time and passes to humans. Especially when they are present in domestic animals that can be eaten. The COVID-29 virus has striking similarities with other coronaviruses which include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). MERS and SARS have both been around for a long time, both contagious and cause respiratory illness. They’ve had their individual share of outbreaks.

Myth 21: You can get the flu more easily than COVID-19

R0 pronounced “R naught” is used by scientist to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. It represents the reproduction number and how easily the virus spreads. Scientist estimate the R0 for SARS-CoV2(causative virus of COVID-19) as 2.2- mwaning one infected person infects 2.2 others. That of flu is 1.3.

Myth 22: There is no need for lockdowns and school closure  

A lockdown or school closure is an important toll used by the government and public health offcilas to halt or slow down the spread of contagious disease. The purpose of lockdowns especially in this case is to keep the R0 < 1 as explained in myth 21

Myth 23: Eating Chinese food increases your chances of getting the virus

No, it doesn’t

Myth  24: COVID-19 is the deadliest virus in existence

COVID-19 is not the deadliest virus ma has ever faced. Diseases such as Ebola have higher mortalty rates than the COVID-19. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected about 500 million killing an estimated 50 million worldwide. Other dangerous disease include Hepatitis, MES, HIV/AIDS, Influenza.

Myth 25: Vaccines for flu and pneumonia can protect against the COVID-19

The causative virus of COVID-19 is the SARS-CoV-2 which is different from other viruses. There’s presently no vaccine that can protect against the infection.

Myth 26: Taking Vitamin C containing fruits or tablets, Sesame oil and other home remedies can protect against the COVID-19

All these can boost your immune system but can’t protect against the COVID-19. Effective measures include regular washing of hands and social distancing.

Myth 27: Eating garlic protects against the COVID-19

Garlic has a lot of health and medicinal properties. Garlic supplement may help prevent and reduce the severity of the common cold and flu but the COVID-19 is different. Furthermore, no data suggest that garlic offers protection against the COVID-19.

Myth 28. SARS-CoV-2 is just another mutated form of the common cold.

Common cold is caused by many different types of viruses. The COVID-19 is caused by a specific virus, SARS-CoV-2. Although both share similarities, the common cod is harmless and resolve in 2 weeks. The common cold uses human as its primary host while viruses such as MERS, SARs and SARS-CoV-2 use animals as their primary host.

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