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COVID-19 Pandemic: Separating Fact From Fiction

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

On a recent video call, a participant told 40 other women that if they rubbed bacitracin zinc ointment in their noses, it would protect them from COVID-19. My audio was turned off, so no one heard me groan. However, the video did catch me dropping and shaking my head like pandemic superhero Anthony Fauci M.D. did at one of President Trump’s press conferences. 

Let’s start with one fact: Bacitracin zinc ointment prevents bacterial infections and is ineffective on viruses. The same is true for Neosporin. It will NOT protect you from COVID-19.

Today I discuss some of the myths I’ve heard during this coronavirus pandemic.

Myth: Chloroquine is a “game changer. On March 19, 2020, during a press conference about COVID-19,  President Trump said that the anti-malaria drug called chloroquine is a “game changer.” Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are being investigated in clinical trials around the world, and although the FDA issued emergency approval for their use in hospitals, as of now, the evidence of the effectiveness of these drugs as a treatment for COVID-19 has not been established. People are buying chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and putting themselves at risk. There have been some reported deaths in the U.S. and world from people taking these anti-malarials. Also, there are huge shortages of these drugs, putting people who need these medicines for other conditions at risk. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine should only be administered by licensed medical providers.

For up-to-date information on the status of drugs in COVID-19 clinical trials that are being tested, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Myth: Since there aren’t many coronavirus cases in my area, I don’t need to practice social distancing. This is false for a variety of reasons. First, many areas aren’t equipped to do testing, so no one has any idea of the accurate number of people with COVID-19. Second, we do know that people with no or mild symptoms are passing this. A study out of China found that nearly 80% of people who acquired COVID-19 got it from people who didn’t know they were infected.  Third, the entire point of social distancing is to keep COVID-19 from spreading, particularly rapidly. If you don’t understand the concept of “flattening the curve,” here’s a good explanation.   

Myth: Sipping water every 15 minutes will protect against coronavirus. There is no evidence to support this, and the notion is so unscientific, there are no clinical trials on it. Ditto with taking vitamin C. Also, if you hear that sunlight or UV rays kill COVID-19, that is false.

Don’t believe everything you hear. To stay safe, check the sources. Try to set the record straight when you hear others spread false information. If you want more information about COVID-19, here are a few reliable resources:

If you want to read more about COVID-19 or other health-related issues, I am also blogging at hepmag.com.

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