Debunking 5 Coronavirus Myths

Illustration by Nina Scott

As North Carolina hits its peak amount of cases of the coronavirus this month, it is important to continue to separate facts from fiction, in order to combat both the outbreak of the virus and misinformation.

False: People of color cannot contract the coronavirus due to the amount of melanin in their skin.

Claims that people of African descent or those with darker skin tones cannot get or die from COVID-19 were shared via social media sites such as Facebook and  Twitter. The myth began as a joke online, however it was accidentally picked up by various news sources as a scientific fact. This myth turned out to be more harmful than funny, as trends of more African Americans dying from COVID-19 became a truth. As of April 11, in Chicago over 68 percent of COVID-19 deaths are African American, despite Black people making up 30 percent of the population. The same has occurred in Michigan where 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths are Black people while they make up 14 percent of the overall population. The causes of these racial disparities are under investigation, however many scientists suspect that they are linked to the Black population having higher amounts of asthma, obesity and other underlying diseases that make fighting against the virus more difficult.

False: The coronavirus has been caused or linked to 5G internet connection.

Many myths circling the internet have also claimed that the physiological symptoms of COVID-19 are the effect of radiation from the newest generation of internet speed. Some claim that the waves cause cell poisoning leading to forms of cancer and other illnesses. Scientists have confirmed that these claims are far from the truth. There have been myths circulating for years that all internet and wifi causes cancer, however those claims are easily debunked as radio waves are non-ionizing, unlike carcinogenic radiation such as UVs, x-rays and gamma rays.

False: Gargling with salt water or inhaling herb infused steam removes the virus from your system.

Online “doctors” and “gurus” have been found falsely stating that by inhaling fruits and herbs such as ginger or citruses, or gargling salt water, people can cure themselves of the virus. Normally, the virus enters the body through breathing, so gargling with salt water in the back of the throat would have no effect on a virus already in the lungs. There have been no studies showing that inhaling fruit or herb infused water causes any beneficial results with any diseases. Doctors advise that people should avoid putting anything other than air, low levels of steam or prescribed inhalant medications directly into their lungs. Eating the correct amount of fruits and herbs can help replenish vitamin levels and treat symptoms, however breathing them in cannot kill the virus.

False: The virus will die off in the spring and summer for good.

Most viruses do not technically “die off” during the warmer months in America, as they migrate to the Southern Hemisphere during fall while the Northern Hemisphere enters spring. If the coronavirus does migrate away to the Southern Hemisphere, there is the possibility that it could migrate back again during the fall. Also, there were over 6,447 cases of COVID-19 in Australia as of April 15, while it is currently just entering autumn for Australia, making it a possibility that the virus does not react significantly to seasonal changes.

False: The virus came from one person eating bat soup in China.

Lastly, people online have also been spreading the myth that a person in China contracted the virus via eating a soup made with bat meat. Scientists have traced the virus to a genetically similar virus in bats where it possibly originated, however it was likely passed down through other animals before coming in contact with a human. It is also possible that the fecal or urine droppings from a bat could have infected a person working with bats inside of a cave without proper safety equipment. There have been various reports of people who had been infected with a mysterious pneumonia in early December who did not come in contact with the now infamous Wuhan wet market, so scientists are working to pinpoint the exact source, however, it did not come from ingesting bats.

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