Facts or myths?: Demystifying Covid-19

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, over 180 million across the world have been infected with 3.91 million others having succumbed to the disease.

Known as SARS-CoV-2, there has been many theories about the disease on social media platforms.

It has been tempting to sometimes believe some of the claims made, but The Standard highlights some of the myths and facts on the disease.

So far there are several vaccine brands that have been approved including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, Sinopharm as well as Oxford Astrazeneca.

Dr Brian Kimani from the Doctors on call, says the best Covid-19 vaccine is the first one that is available to you.

Doctors-On-Call” Service is a clinical support to patient by physicians visiting patient's home and giving required treatment and advice.

According to Dr Kimani, one should not wait for a specific brand because those that are available have been authorized and certified by World Health Organisation as safe, effective and reduce the risk of severe illness.

"The Centre for Disease Control does not recommend one vaccine over another," he says.

Below are some of the Myths vs Facts

Covid-19 vaccines alters one DNA

No. There are several types of Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorised and recommended for use. This includes the messenger RNA(mRNA) vaccines and the viral vector vaccines. The current vaccines do not change or interact with ones DNA in any way.

If I got vaccinated, I would not be able to get pregnant

There is also no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, Covid-19 vaccines included.

The quality of Covid-19 data cannot be trusted

According to Mayo Clinic Health Systems reports that early in the pandemic, information about Covid-19 was changing often as physicians and scientists learned about the new virus.

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research.

Mayo clinic indicates this may have led some people to be concerned with the reliability of the data and information.

In addition, partisan approaches and messaging led to further skepticism. However, hospitals across the globe started to record a dramatic increase in the number of patients needing to be hospitalised for Covid-19.

This prompted government to put mechanisms in place to record new infections on a daily basis.

Cold weather can kill Covid-19

There is no scientific evidence to back this claim that colder weather can kill Covid-19 or other viruses. Dr Kimani says the normal human body temperature remains around 36.5 C to 37 C, regardless of the external temperature or weather.

Wearing a facemask while in public, maintaining social distance, avoiding in-person gatherings, washing hands with soap and water and getting tested remains the effective way to keep the virus at bay.

I cannot contract covid-19 if currently taking antibiotics

Covid-19 is a viral disease and antibiotics are used to treat bacteria and not viruses. Therefore, antibiotics should not be used for prevention or treatment.

Mayo Clinic however states that some people who are hospitalised for the disease may receive antibiotics because they have a different bacterial infection at the same time.

Only the elderly or those with underlying health conditions will get seriously ill and require hospitalisation for Covid-19.

People of all ages can contract Covid-19. The risk of developing dangerous symptoms from Covid-19 may be increased in people who are older or in people of any age who have other serious health problems, such as heart or lung conditions, weakened immune systems, severe obesity or diabetes.

People of all ages are being hospitalized with Covid-19. The average age of patients hospitalized because of Covid-19 at Mayo Clinic Health System fluctuates day-to-day.

Fabric masks don't protect yourself or others from Covid-19

Wearing a cloth mask helps decrease the spread of Covid-19. Research shows that a significant number of people with Covid-19 lack symptoms or are considered asymptomatic. These people may not know they are transmitting the virus to others when they talk, sneeze, cough or raise their voice (e.g., singing or shouting). You should wear a cloth mask to reduce the chance of transmitting respiratory droplets (spit) to others around you. You should wear a mask to protect others, and they should wear a mask to protect you.

You should avoid hospitals if you want to stay healthy

It can be dangerous to avoid the hospital when you need medical help. If you or someone else is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, it is important to get medical attention immediately. Do not avoid going to a hospital in that situation.

For non-emergencies, call a doctor or other health care provider to ask if a hospital visit is necessary. And if you do have to visit a medical facility for a non-emergency, wear a mask and physically distance yourself from others as much as possible.

Drinking water will flush Covid-19 from my system

Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst. It's essential to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Nearly all of your body's major systems depend on water to function and survive.

This myth focuses on the idea that you can wash the virus down your throat and into your stomach, where it will be killed by stomach acid. However, drinking water does not prevent the virus from entering your lungs and making you sick.

You should keep drinking water to remain hydrated. However, the best use of water for Covid-19 prevention is using it to wash your hands.

I don't need to quarantine if I tested negative for Covid-19

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might be exposed to Covid-19 away from others. A negative test does not end your quarantine early. It simply means that at the time of your test, your sample did not show viral levels high enough to be measured. You still could have Covid-19, be contagious and spread the virus to others.

Wearing a mask will increase the amount of carbon dioxide I breathe and will make me sick

For many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions.

WHO recommends wearing both surgical and cloth masks while in public and this option is very breathable.

There is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe.

If you feel uncomfortable in your mask, try to limit your talking and breathe through your nose. That will reduce the humidity level in your mask.

Hydroxychloroquine will prevent me from Covid-19 deaths

Clinical trials confirm that hydroxychloroquine does not prevent illness or death from Covid-19.

Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine is a common treatment for malaria and certain autoimmune diseases which has little to no impact on Covid-19 illness, hospitalisation, or death. 

Myths on Prevention, treatment and cure

ARV’s can be used to cure Covid-19

There is currently no evidence that antiretroviral drugs used in HIV treatments can treat or prevent Covid-19.

The government through the Health Ministry has stressed on the need for those living with HIV to continue taking their antiretroviral treatment to protect their immune system. as there is no evidence that the ARVs provide any immunity to Covid-19.

Anti-malaria drugs are effective against Covid-19

There’s currently no evidence that antimalarial drugs can treat or prevent Covid-19.

The main clinical trial trying to find an effective treatment for Covid-19 stopped it’s investigation into the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, in summer 2020. This was after it found no evidence that the drug could prevent people from needing ventilation or dying, or speed up their recovery.

Can Covid-19 be passed on in warm sunny weather

You can get Covid-19no matter how sunny and warm it is. Exposing yourself to the sun or high temperatures does not prevent or treat the disease, so whatever the weather one should follow the preventive measures to protect themselves.

Hot drinks can stop Covid-19

There is no drink, hot or cold, that will protect you from coronavirus or cure the illness. Most people who get Covid-19 recover by themselves. Taking paracetamol, drinking lots of liquids, and getting enough rest can help you manage your symptoms.

Strong disinfectant can protect myself from Covid-19

Strong disinfectant should not be used to clean your body. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing an alcohol-based sanitiser on them will stop the virus from being passed on. Using stronger chemicals on your skin can be dangerous. Never drink disinfectant or hand sanitiser as this can do serious damage.

Drinking alcohol can cure or prevent Covid-19

Drinking alcohol doesn’t cure or prevent Covid-19. In fact, drinking alcohol can weaken your immune system. It’s recommended that adults limit their alcohol intake to stay healthy.

Drinking high strength ethanol, as found in some cleaning products or hand sanitisers can be very dangerous as they could cause a disability or death.

Material for reporting obtained from the Mayo Clinic Health System’s, the World Health Organisation  and avert.org websites.

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