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Coronavirus Myths, Part I

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD July 11, 2020


Yes, Coronavirus myths are a thing. Coronavirus is not an all-powerful entity that spells the end of mankind. We just have to be diligent in attacking this pandemic. There’s so much information and misinformation out there that Straight, No Chaser needs to clarify some of the more important facts to know and egregious myths to avoid.

Myth: The virus is a variant of the common cold

No, it’s not, but it is part of the Coronavirus family of viruses. Different Coronaviruses cause different disease, and in fact four different members of that family cause common colds. However, SARS-CoV-2, the specific virus that causes COVID-19 is not one of them. So if you have the cold, don’t worry. The world isn’t about to end!

Myth: The virus was made in a lab

This particular Coronavirus myth/conspiracy theory is easy to combat (no pun intended) if you believe in science. All evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease of COVID-19) seems to have originated in bats. Also, there is no evidence that the virus was man-made.  Furthermore, there are other viruses that have originated in animals that migrated to humans.  This particular virus’ characteristics and activity fall in line with that of those other examples.

Myth: Any face mask protects you from Coronavirus

The problems with regular surgical masks is those viral particles aren’t blocked from penetration. However, the masks do have value in potentially blocking large respiratory droplets that you expel when coughing or sneezing. The most effective masks are the N95 respirators that medical staffs use. However, these need to be fitted to prevent air from escaping around the edges. Also, they must be checked for ongoing effectiveness after each use. Truthfully, it’s a matter of risks. Use the best option you have, and focus on prevention.

Myth: Getting COVID-19 is guaranteed to kill you

Here’s the data. Just over 2% of people infected with COVID-19 are killed by it. About 14% contract a severe illiness (significant shortness of breath), and just under 5% are critical (respiratory or multi-organ failure or septic shock). Over 80% of the infect have mild infections that may not include symptoms. The elderly and those otherwise immunocompromised are those most at risk, but there is some level of risk of severe disease and death for every individual contracting the disease.

Myth: The worst has passed in the US

We’ve continued to tell you (and most experts are agreeing) that the worst of COVID-19 has yet to come. We have seen incremental steps toward full quarantine and isolation in the US, seemingly in hopes that it won’t become necessary. However, as testing reveals the full extent of the disease, expect more of the school closures, athletic arena fan bans, city curfews, airport screening of the need to fly and other once-thought draconian measures to take hold, complete with military enforcement of the new rules. You probably didn’t know this, but state and federal laws are already in place for these considerations in the face of a public health emergency.

There are a lot more Coronavirus myths out there for us to beat down. If you have some you’d like us to address, leave them in the comments section. Stay tuned!

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