Saturday, 9 December, 2023

Debunking Myths About COVID-19

Prof. Dr. Shyam P Lohani


Rumours spread faster than facts. Negative news travels faster than positive one. Recently, novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has created myths about the viral diseases. Fake news on CCORONA recently has created panic among people worldwide. The way news is presented and the way we access it has changed significantly in the last two decades. The news agencies often make those issues sensational or even emotionalise it by emphasising negative outcomes although such events are associated with only a few risks (bad news makes us sick, see at:…). You may have heard that drinking few glasses of wine is not harmful for good health even by a hypertensive. Similarly, wearing a surgical face masks does not protect you from CORONA. And, you might want to discuss for hours– pregnancies do not last for nine months.
Myths on health related topics are often repeated as the fact even though those fallacies can be found out by diligent Google search. People often lack time to search those myths. Health-related myths are difficult to shake if they are old. However, you might want to change it. Many sites prey on vulnerable populations. People who easily believe promises of a quick, easy cure or an alternative to medically established recommendations are more susceptible to such a tactic. Given below are a few medical myths:
Myth: Vaccines can cause the flu. Truth: Although body can develop low grade fever in response to any vaccine, rumours that flu shot can cause flu is an “outright lie”. The flu shot contains dead flu virus and dead virus cannot be revived to cause flu. Myth: Alcohol consumption is safe if taken in limited amount. Truth: No amount of alcohol consumption is safe despite many anecdotal claims of health benefits.

Rumours & truth
Rumour: Heat kills the virus. Truth: Externally of course but you cannot create temperature inside your body sufficient to kill the virus. Rumour: Drinking alcohol kills the virus. Truth: Nuh-Uh! drinking alcohol kills you NOT the virus. Rumour: Surgical face mask protects you from the virus. Truth: Not always! See CDC's recommendation on surgical mask at…). Rumour: virus can survive for months. Truth: the novel coronavirus can live on surfaces for 2-3 days; the absolute duration of survival is still debatable. A recent study has found that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours (, 2020).
Rumour: hand sanitiser is more effective at killing viruses than hand washing. Truth: according to CDC, hand sanitiser is equally effective at killing viruses, although hand-washing is preferred choice. You need sink for hand-washing, thus, hand sanitiser is a good back-up plan but you will have to make sure that sanitiser contains at least 60 per cent alcohol. Due to shortage of hand sanitiser in the market, you can make it at home if the recipe contains and maintains 60 per cent alcohol. If you are not sure, soap and water are still effective in killing viruses and cheaper as well.
Health care associated infections (HAIs) are usually caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi. The large majority of cases (almost about 90 per cent of health care associated infections) are due to bacteria. The people who work at those settings are at the highest risk of acquiring HAIs. The need of surgical masks to health care professionals are greater than the general public. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to have adequate quantity of those masks available at the health care facilities.
The government has been making all the possible efforts to safeguard public health. It is not still late to form a “high level committee” for dealing all aspects of this new pandemic. It is also suggested that a responsible coordinator of a committee should give an interview on TV on a daily basis. No government of any country can provide shelter (quarantine) for its entire population; self-isolation is the best and we should call on to general public to create shelter for themselves and their family at home.
The systematic way of dealing emergencies is to prioritise the work to be done. Let us play our part in dealing with COVID-19. Every responsible citizen can play a role. Our strength is unity in diversity and we will see this pandemic to abate with combined efforts from public-private partnership. Many people are saying that a ring tone about coronavirus is creating panic among the general public. Thus, it is recommended to remove it as soon as possible.

(Prof. Lohani is the founder and academic director of Nobel College and can be reached at