COVID-19 Myths Debunked

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We debunk some of the top myths spreading about COVID-19. (AP Photo/George Calin)
We debunk some of the top myths spreading about COVID-19. (AP Photo/George Calin)

As the coronavirus continues to spread, a lot of misinformation about the pandemic is also circulating.

Some articles falsely claim certain groups of people are more immune to infection and promote dangerous home remedies.

Dr. Seema Yasmin is here to debunk some of these bogus claims. She's a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University and author of the forthcoming book “Debunked.”

Is the coronavirus man-made?

No — and this conspiracy theory pops up with almost every epidemic including Zika and Ebola, Yasmin says.

“What we do know is that it's very likely that this coronavirus jumped from bats to another animal and then to humans,” she says.

Can drinking bleach cure coronavirus?

Drinking bleach won’t cure coronavirus, she says, but it could kill you.

“Please don't ever, for any reason, consume bleach,” she says.

A lot of popular home remedies like gargling salt water or drinking warm water won’t kill the virus, but she says they won’t cause any harm either.

Are black people immune to coronavirus?

There’s no evidence that black people or any other group are more protected from the virus, Yasmin says.

“I will say that especially within the United States, I worry more about black people and people of color becoming infected,” she says, “because it's not just the virus that kills us. It's poor access to health care. It's having poor health insurance.”

Studies show black people and people of color have a harder time getting timely, appropriate treatment, she says.

Does having a runny nose mean you have the common cold — not coronavirus?

No, it doesn’t. Symptoms of the new coronavirus include cough, fever, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, but Yasmin says studies coming out of China on both children and adults show it can also include a runny nose.

“Just because you have a runny nose, that doesn't help us in any way narrow down exactly which infection you have,” she says.

Can the infection travel 10 feet through sneezing?

Not quite that far. When someone with coronavirus sneezes or coughs, they release droplets that contain the virus.

Studies on droplets with other infections have shown the furthest they can travel is six feet or about two yards, she says.

Is the information I’ve received about coronavirus accurate?

Don’t believe or share everything you read, she says, especially from a forwarded email or WhatsApp message. Yasmin recommends questioning where the information comes from and fact-checking on a verified website like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

“It just takes a few added steps and a pause, making sure that you can fact check this alongside verified sources and website,” she says. “And certainly don't share yourself until you feel like it comes from somewhere credible.”

Cristina Kim produced this story and edited it for broadcast with Tinku RayAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on March 13, 2020.

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Tonya Mosley was the LA-based co-host of Here & Now.


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Allison Hagan Digital Producer, Here & Now
Allison Hagan is a digital producer for Here & Now.



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