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COVID-19 Misinformation and Mythbusters

Since the start of the pandemic, there’s been a huge amount of misinformation, fake news, and ‘inaccuracies’ everywhere you turn, giving fertile ground for the tin-hat brigade to blast us with all sorts of ‘information’ that no doubt confuses patients, or gives you some challenging conversations when they ask about something that ‘questionable’ tweeters have been spewing without facts to back them up.

Now as lockdown measures have been in place in some form since March, more and more ‘theories’ are emerging – a few honest mistakes can be corrected, but it complicates giving accurate advice to patients when they are hearing a lot of stories that, although they may appear convincing, are untrue, misleading or just plain bonkers.

We will be collecting some of these 'theories'/rumours/myths that are circulating along with some verified sources to help combat some of the misconceptions;

Water transmits COVID-19

Drinking water cannot transmit the virus - the World Health Organisation has stated that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted by droplets through direct or close contact with an infected person or indirect contact through contaminated surfaces.

If you were swimming in a pool or open water it still does not transmit, however, if there are other people present who are infected then you could catch it from them, so physical and social distancing measures must be taken.

WHO's Science in 5 on COVID-19 - Myth busters

Vitamins will protect you from infection

Taking vitamins is good for bolstering the human immune system, and this probably stems from the existing advice around winter flu as it plays a vital role in promoting health and wellbeing. There is currently no guidance on the use of vitamins as a treatment for COVID-19, although the WHO are currently evaluating this.

Dietary Supplements and COVID-19

Bleach and Ultraviolet light will cure COVID-19

We all know where this came from, and no, just…no.

 Expert

Expert

Not an expert 

Drinking or spraying bleach on your body doesn’t prevent or cure COVID – it’s poisonous if you try to put it into your body. After you-know-who put this forward, the WHO had to put out a warning “Do not under any circumstances spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body”.

UV light can be used to disinfect surfaces – it doesn’t sterilise human skin, but it can cause skin irritation, damage to your eyes, and puts you at risk of long-term skin damage.

Factsheet on UV Disinfection for COVID-19

Drinking Alcohol will stop you from getting COVID-19

Drinking alcohol won’t kill the virus – in fact, drinking more will increase the health risks if you get infected. It doesn’t disinfect your mouth or throat, and it doesn’t stimulate your immune system or resistance to the virus.

The only way alcohol will protect you from the virus is the one in your hand sanitisers, used in the right way.

WHO (Europe) Alcohol and COVID-19: what you need to know

Masks don't work

There’s more than enough studies out there to show that they do. Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated ait gives you 5 times more protection than having nothing.

A mask over the nose and mouth is a physical barrier that absorbs respiratory droplets that can carry and spread the coronavirus. A cloth covering or a P95 rated mask is recommended and although there isn’t a mandatory mask policy, it is clearly the best and easiest method of protection.

Under the current government regulations, members of the public will need to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, and transport hubs, to help curb the spread of the virus.

Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own

Masks will give you carbon dioxide poisoning

Wearing a mask does not lead to CO2 deficiency or intoxication. One internet “theory” says breathing in exhaled carbon dioxide will poison you, which is not the case. Medical face masks have been around since the 1890s and disposable ones since the 1930s, and have not shown that they restrict oxygen or increase CO2. With the medical and cloth masks we have been advised to use, carbon dioxide can easily escape through the mask, as they are designed to do.

Tests prove masks don’t cause oxygen deficiency & CO2 intoxication

First Practice Management members can access our Pandemic Toolkit, along with a wide range of regularly updated draft policies and documents relating to information security and governance from our Policies and Procedures Library.


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