Debunking The Biggest COVID-19 Myths

Debunking The Biggest COVID-19 Myths

It would be an understatement to say that there has been a lot of information and disinformation out there since we first began hearing about the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19. So, we thought it would be a useful exercise to debunk some of the most shared myths about the virus.


Myth #1

The virus was deliberately released by a laboratory in China


The Coronavirus is believed to have arisen in a seafood market in Wuhan China that also had live animals. Viruses can only survive in living creatures and dead ones for a short period of time, in general. So, this explains why there was active viral replication because the animals in the market were alive.

Myth #2

People must have symptoms in order to transmit the disease


Among 619 cruise members that tested positive for COVID-19, half of them were asymptomatic. That’s why this virus spreads so fast because people who feel fine go about their business as usual and participate in social activities.

Myth # 3

The only way to become infected is by someone sneezing or coughing on you


Once people became infected, they transmitted it via the respiratory droplets found in respiratory secretions when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. The virus must make direct contact with the mucous membranes, such as inside the nose, mouth, and eyes. The virus can live on surfaces, so touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can cause an infection. Droplets in the air do not travel more than 6 feet, and they do not linger in the air. The drier the air, the more likely they are to drop to the ground more slowly. Humidity weighs the virus down, so authorities are hopeful that this virus will die out in the warmer, more humid months. The live virus can live in stools, but the fecal-oral transmission is not thought to be a significant mode of transmission. But wash your hands anyway—AS USUAL.

The incubation period is 2 to 14 days, however many people who are asymptomatic may still be transmitters. Most cases occur approximately four to five days after exposure [2-4].

In a study of 1099 patients with confirmed symptomatic COVID-19, the median incubation period was four days [3].

Myth # 4

Most people get really sick from COVID-19


The spectrum of illness severity — Most infections are not severe. In a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention that included approximately 44,500 confirmed infections with an estimation of disease severity [6]:

  • Mild (no or mild pneumonia) was reported in 81 percent.
  • Severe disease (shortness of breath, low oxygen in the blood, or >50 percent lung involvement on imaging within 24 to 48 hours) was reported in 14 percent.
  • Critical disease (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction) was reported in 5 percent.
  • The overall case-fatality rate was 2.3 percent; no deaths were reported among noncritical cases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the case-fatality rate ranged from 5.8 percent in Wuhan to 0.7 percent in the rest of China.

Older people had higher mortalities, with a case fatality rate of 8 and 15 percent among those aged 70 to 79 years and 80 years or older, respectively.

Symptomatic infection in children appears to be uncommon and is usually mild. In the large Chinese report described above, only 2 percent of infections were younger than 20 years old [6].

Myth #5

Cough and Muscle Aches are the most common Symptoms


In a study describing 138 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Wuhan, the most common clinical features at the onset of illness were [5]:

  • Fever in 99 percent
  • Fatigue in 70 percent
  • Dry cough in 59 percent
  • Anorexia in 40 percent
  • Muscle aches in 35 percent
  • Shortness of breath in 31 percent
  • Sputum production in 27 percent

Less common symptoms have included headache, sore throat, and runny nose. In addition to respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea and diarrhea) have also been reported in some patients.

Home care — Home management is appropriate for patients with mild infection who can be adequately isolated in the outpatient setting [1,7,8]. Management of such patients should focus on prevention of transmission to others, and monitoring for clinical deterioration, which should prompt hospitalization.

Myth #6

Social Distancing should only be done if you are ill with COVID-19


Everyone should practice social distancing, which means staying 6 feet away from another person. Stay out of crowded areas. This is because many people do not know if they have the disease. In actuality, keeping up social networks is encouraged, so social distancing should be termed physical distancing.

Outpatients with COVID-19 should stay at home and try to separate themselves from other people and animals in the household.

People infected, not those without the disease, should wear a facemask when in the same room (or vehicle) as other people and when presenting to healthcare settings.

Myth #7

If we practice Social/Physical Distancing, we cannot have a dramatic effect on the spread of the disease


Social distancing will limit the stress to the healthcare system or at least slow it down. This is because it takes time for an infected person to get sick and possibly need the healthcare system.

When Social Distancing works, case numbers go down, but when controls are relaxed, they can pop up again.

Myth #8

You can only use recommended hand sanitizers to prevent contracting the virus


You can use home sanitizers such as diluted bleach solutions and rubbing alcohol. Be sure to follow the precautions on the bottle and keep your eyes safe. 80% solution of rubbing alcohol can be used instead of gel hand sanitizers. A 25% solution of bleach in water can work for both hands and surface cleaning. Both are drying to the skin with repetitive use. Ammonia and hydrogen peroxide can be used, too. Check out this link for a list of ingredients

Make sure to clean handles, light switches, bed and handrails, interior doors and knobs and windows, toilet bowl, and sink basins. You can use a Lysol product for fabrics/upholstery.

Myth #9

You cannot get both the Flu and COVID-19 at the same time


While it would be rare, you can get both viruses simultaneously, but COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu. And, the flu is deadlier than COVID-19.

Myth #10

Everyone should get tested for COVID-19


Medical professionals suggest that only if the individual has symptoms, has traveled to areas with widespread transmission, or has been in contact with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19, should be tested. Even if you are negative now, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t pick it up at any time. And, there are not enough tests for everyone. Furthermore, if you have symptoms, assume you have it and stay away from others—at least 6 feet and wear a mask.


Now that we've taken the time to put many of these most-circulated myths to bed, we hope that there will be a tangible drop in our anxiety levels and that we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, despite staying vigilant with our sanitary protocol.



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