During the COVID-19 outbreak it’s harder than ever to pick out truth from fiction. TNS
As the novel coronavirus rages on with numbers rising globally, the many myths and talk of supposed remedies have also been rising.
Chances are you’ve heard about a food, drug or other method that claims to prevent, treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
But while it might be tempting to use a questionable product or method to stay healthy during the pandemic, it’s extremely unlikely to work and might cause serious harm.
COVID-19 treatment and prevention myths
While researchers are studying many COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, none has been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.
Any claims that a medication, herbal supplement or other substance can prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus or cure COVID-19 are bogus.
Likewise, misinformation continues to circulate about ways to treat COVID-19.
Few diseases can be treated quickly, so beware of quick fixes. A miracle cure that claims to contain a secret ingredient is likely a hoax.
If you have a question about a method for treating COVID-19 or preventing infection with the COVID-19 virus, talk to your doctor.
Here are some of the substances and products that have been touted as ways to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus or treat COVID-19 — and what the science says:
Pneumonia and flu vaccines
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 virus. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as the pneumococcal vaccine, don’t provide protection against the COVID-19 virus. The flu shot also won’t protect you against the COVID-19 virus.
Saline nasal wash
There is no evidence that rinsing your nose with saline protects against infection with the COVID-19 virus.
Exposure to the sun or to temperatures higher than 77 F (25 C) doesn’t prevent the COVID-19 virus or cure COVID-19. You can get the COVID-19 virus in sunny, hot and humid weather. Taking a hot bath also can’t prevent you from catching the COVID-19 virus. Your normal body temperature remains the same, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.
Cold weather and snow also can’t kill the COVID-19 virus.
Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. However, people hospitalised due to COVID-19 might be given antibiotics because they also have developed a bacterial infection.
Alcohol and chlorine spray
Spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body won’t kill viruses that have entered your body. These substances also can harm your eyes, mouth and clothes.
Drinking alcohol doesn’t protect you from the COVID-19 virus.
There’s no evidence that eating garlic protects against infection with the COVID-19 virus.
Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection lamp
Ultraviolet light can be used as a disinfectant on surfaces. But don’t use a UV lamp to sterilise your hands or other areas of your body. UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
5G mobile networks
Avoiding exposure to or use of 5G networks doesn’t prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. Viruses can’t travel on radio waves and mobile networks. The COVID-19 virus is spreading in many countries that lack 5G mobile networks.
When applied to surfaces, disinfectants can help kill germs such as the COVID-19 virus. However, don’t use disinfectants on your body, inject them into your body or swallow them. Disinfectants can irritate the skin and be toxic if swallowed or injected into the body.
Many people take vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, green tea or echinacea to boost their immune systems. While these supplements might affect your immune function, research hasn’t shown that they can prevent you from getting sick. The supplement colloidal silver, which has been marketed as a COVID-19 treatment, isn’t considered safe or effective for treating any disease.
About 100 research groups are pursuing vaccines with nearly a dozen in early stages of human trials or poised to start. It’s a crowded field, but researchers say that only increases the odds that a few might overcome the many obstacles that remain.
A common complication of viral infections such as the flu or the coronavirus is a secondary, superimposed bacterial infection — or a superinfection — resistant to the treatment being used against the primary infection.
Sarah Gilbert is a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford and leads a team of researchers in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 1.7 million worldwide.
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