5 Myths About Coronavirus
Everybody everywhere seems to have a friend, spouse or colleague who claims to know “the truth” about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. But right now, there are probably just two truths you can count on. First: Information is quickly evolving. Second: You’ll find a lot of misinformation about the virus on social media.
Here at MDVIP, we’ve heard combed through the most reliable sources of coronavirus information to help debunk five common myths.
The French have discovered a cure.
Have you heard that a scientist in France discovered the cure for COVID-19? It’s not true, though his research is promising.
French infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult, MD, PhD, led a small study that found success treating COVID-19 with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, especially in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin. He recently posted his news on YouTube.
The study methods and size are just two reasons you can’t consider the results conclusive. But studies by other researchers have found similar success with the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients may receive treatment with these drugs in several countries.
In addition to these potential paths to a cure, clinical trials of promising investigational drugs are underway. There is currently no cure for COVID-19.
We’ll have a vaccine soon.
Conditions seem ideal for quick vaccine development: political will, funding, scientific interest, public need. No wonder so many people think we’ll have a coronavirus vaccine soon.
The reality is that vaccine development takes a long time under the best of circumstances. In the U.S., clinical development alone (not counting the other stages in vaccine development, including approvals and manufacturing) has three phases.
- Phase I: Small groups receive the trial vaccine.
- Phase II: Testing is expanded to larger groups who are similar (in age and health, for instance) to people who would get the approved vaccine.
- Phase III: Thousands of people get the trial vaccine, which is tested for safety and effectiveness.
On March 16, 2020, the National Institutes of Health launched a Phase I trial of an investigational COVID-19 drug. You may have heard this drug has been fast-tracked. “Fast” in drug-development terms could mean a year or two away, and that’s if all goes exactly as hoped.
Saline nasal spray can protect me from the virus.
Saline has many potential benefits. Preventing the new coronavirus isn’t one of them. (So many people have wondered about this that the World Health Organization addresses it on their “Myth Busters” page.)
Saline nasal spray can provide relief of sinus symptoms from a range of health conditions. A small pilot study suggests it may even help shorten some viral respiratory infections. However, there’s no evidence that rinsing your nose with saline can prevent any illness.
I'm under 60, so I don’t have to worry about coronavirus.
The new coronavirus is potentially very dangerous for older adults and those who already have compromised health. As more cases occur and more data roll in, we’re now learning that younger people can also get seriously ill from the disease.
In a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, COVID-19 cases that occurred in the U.S. from February 12 to March 16 were analyzed by age group and disease severity. These are some statistics on patients under 60.
- Confirmed cases by age. Among 2,449 patients with known age, 18% were ages 45-54, and 29% were ages 20-44.
- Hospitalizations. Among 508 people known to have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 18% were ages 45-54, and 20% were ages 20-44.
- Severe cases. Among 121 patients known to have been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), 36% were ages 45-64, and 12% were ages 20-44.
- Deaths. Among 44 cases with known outcomes, 15 (34%) deaths were reported. Adults ages 20-64 accounted for nine cases, or 20% of all deaths.
I can’t get the virus from being in the same room as someone infected.
When someone has COVID-19, they spread tiny droplets that contain the virus every time they cough or sneeze. To help protect yourself, you can follow the CDC recommendations on social distancing and put about six feet of space between you and someone else.
Maybe that logic led to the myth that you can’t catch the virus just by being in the same room as someone who has it. The truth is, physical distance from other people may not be enough to protect yourself.
This virus can live for a while on surfaces. We don’t know exactly how long, but one experiment found it can live up to 72 hours on plastic and 48 hours on steel. There may be some risk of infection if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.