Tuesday, March 31st 2020, 6:06 pm - The Internet can help spread misinformation as fast as any pandemic.
People are understandably thirsty for information on the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, and how to protect themselves, but not everything out there is accurate. Here are a few of the more common myths about the virus, debunked.
FACT: COLD WEATHER AND SNOW DO NOT KILL COVID-19
The World Health Organization is very clear that there is no evidence cold temperatures kill the virus. The contagion is passed from human to human, and the average person's internal body temperature stays constant at around 37°C, no matter how cold or warm it is outside.
FACT: SUN AND HOT TEMPERATURES WON'T PROTECT YOU FROM COVID-19
On the flipside, the WHO says the virus can also be transmitted in hot and humid temperatures.
This specific myth refers to temperatures above 25°C, according to the WHO's myths catalogue. Needless to say, as with cold weather, hotter temperatures aren't a defence against the virus, and the WHO recommends being diligent about hand washing as the best line of defence.
FACT: THERE IS NO COVID-19 VACCINE
Vaccines take time to develop and test before they are safe and effective enough for general use.
That doesn't mean scientists aren't working on it. The Guardian reports some 35 companies and universities are racing to develop one, with some already at the animal testing stage, but the first human trials will come no earlier than April.
One myth is vaccines against pneumonia are effective, but the WHO specifically says that isn't true.
FACT: HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE IS BEING TESTED AS A COVID-19 TREATMENT, BUT AS-YET UNPROVEN
This particular drug has been in the news a lot in recent days as a potential treatment for the disease, and is in fact undergoing limited testing on humans (in Canada, it is being tested at a B.C. seniors' home where several residents are infected with COVID-19).
However, it is much too soon to say for certain if the drug is effective, and Quebec-based health institute INESSS is urging caution in its use.
EXPLAINER: HOW THE CORONAVIRUS (SARS-COV-2) INFECTS HUMAN CELLS
FACT: CATCHING COVID-19 DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL HAVE IT FOR LIFE
While some illnesses do recur with varying degrees of virulence and frequency throughout the sufferer's life, the WHO says that's not the case with COVID-19. Most sufferers will recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies.
FACT: ANTIBIOTICS CANNOT BE USED AGAINST COVID-19
In fact, antibiotics aren't effective against ANY viruses. They are used to treat bacterial infections.
The WHO says antibiotics may be used for those who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 infection, but only as a means to treat bacterial co-infections, not the virus itself.
FACT: EATING GARLIC, BINGING ON VITAMIN C, AND TAKING OTHER SUBSTANCES AS 'CURES' IS INEFFECTIVE
Garlic is generally good for you, and the WHO says it does have some antimicrobial effects, but against COVID-19, it offers no defence.
Likewise, taking a hefty dose of vitamin C, while certainly recommended for anybody, has not been proven effective against COVID-19.
In fact, none of the food or other substances and remedies peddled online -- like drinking water every 15 minutes, swallowing or gargling with bleach, acetic acid, essential oils, and ethanol, to name a few -- are known to be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, and some are even dangerous.
The best defence against the virus remains washing your hands thoroughly.