Myths vs Facts
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Debunking COVID-19 Myths

November 9, 2020   |   By Jacqui Monahan

As COVID-19 continues to spread in the community and around the world, keeping up with the latest news can be daunting. Researchers are learning more about the virus, its effects and treatments all the time.

In that sort of environment, myths and misunderstandings can flourish. Your GreenField Heath team has received all sorts of questions from patients. We’d like to set the record straight on a few of the most common misconceptions.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking a question and admitting you don’t know something. Your GreenField Health Team has answers. Those who ask questions learn. Those who don’t remain ignorant. 

The flu shot makes you more likely to contract COVID-19.

On the contrary, not getting a flu shot will leave you more susceptible to COVID-19. It’s a domino effect. If you don’t get the flu shot, you’re more likely to catch the flu this year. If you catch the flu, your body’s defenses are weakened for a time. And if your body’s defenses are weakened, you’re less able to fight off other viruses like COVID-19.

Plus, because the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar for many patients, better to know it’s probably not the flu because you got a shot.

There currently is no vaccine for COVID-19.

COVID-19 and coronavirus are different viruses.

Kind of. This misunderstanding arises from confusing terminology. We had a detailed explainer on this before, but the short version is that COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus. There are a lot of different coronaviruses out there. COVID-19 is just one of them.

If you get over the flu, you’ll be immune to COVID-19 for a while.

The flu and COVID-19 occur independently of each other. In fact, you can catch both at the same time. Because our bodies tend to run down when we have the flu, we’re even more susceptible to other viruses like COVID-19.

Everyone should get a COVID-19 test.

If you don’t have symptoms and haven’t been exposed to anyone who has COVID-19, then you probably don’t need a test. Check out our testing explainer to learn more.

Taking antibiotics helps block COVID-19.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. However, people hospitalized due to COVID-19 might be given antibiotics because they also have developed a bacterial infection.

Drinking alcohol kills viruses like COVID-19.

An alcohol wipe can sterilize your hands and surfaces, but drinking beer, wine or a cocktail won’t kill viruses.

Disinfectants are a good way to prevent COVID-19.

True, as long as you use them properly. 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. Also, don't wash produce with disinfectants.

Supplements will improve immunity.

Many people take vitamin C, zinc, green tea or echinacea to boost their immune systems. But these supplements are unlikely to affect your immune function or prevent you from getting sick. The supplement colloidal silver, which has been marketed as a COVID-19 treatment, isn’t safe or effective for treating any disease. Oleandrin, an extract from the toxic oleander plant, is poisonous and shouldn’t be taken as a supplement or home remedy.

If you want to minimize your chances of contracting COVID-19, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations:

  • Avoid large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Stay home as much as possible and keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters), especially if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness. Keep in mind some people may have COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if they don't have symptoms or don't know they have COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your face with a cloth face covering in public spaces, such as the grocery store, where it's difficult to avoid close contact with others. Only nonmedical cloth masks — surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you're sick.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you're sick, unless you're going to get medical care. Avoid taking public transportation if you're sick.
  • Before traveling, check the CDC and WHO websites to look for health advisories that may be in place.

Thanks to the Mayo Clinic and Hartford HealthCare for some of the myth responses.