False. Flu vaccine effectiveness varies on any given year but, on average, “science shows that the flu vaccine is about 60 percent protective at preventing the flu,” says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “If you do get the flu despite the vaccine, the flu you get will be less likely to be severe, and less likely to result in hospitalization, pneumonia, and death,” he says.
Fruit, alcohol and starchy foods should be consumed only sparingly, but do not need to be cut out from the diet. Not all carbohydrates are harmful, and whole grains, legumes, and other nutritious high-carbohydrate foods can be beneficial because of the nutrients they provide and because they do not raise glucose levels quickly.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a seemingly endless list of tips to follow to stay safe, but there are just as many mistruths and myths about coronavirus out there. Washing one’s hands and limiting contact with as many people as possible (AKA social distancing) are still the best ways to both stay healthy and not spread the virus. But a stubborn amount of misinformation is spreading just as fast as COVID-19 itself.
To help you stay educated, the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous other reputable medical institutions, such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, are debunking the myths surrounding COVID-19. Here are the 15 biggest ones you need to stop believing.
1Myth: There’s a coronavirus vaccine out there.
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus currently available. According to the experts at Johns Hopkins: “There is no vaccine for the new coronavirus right now. Scientists have already begun working on one but developing a vaccine that is safe and effective in human beings will take many months.”
“The first thing you’ve got to do is make sure it’s safe. When you find out it’s safe and that it induces the kind of response you want it to, then you do it in a lot of people,” Fauci said. “The first trial is, like, 45 people. Then you go into hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That’s what takes the extra eight months… If we really push, we hope that we will know by the time we get into next winter whether or not we have something that works.”
2Myth: COVID-19 was deliberately created and released by people.
As those at Johns Hopkins plainly state, this myth is 100-percent false. “Viruses can change over time,” the experts continue. “Occasionally, a disease outbreak happens when a virus that is common in an animal such as a pig, bat, or bird undergoes changes and passes to humans. This is likely how the new coronavirus came to be.”
3Myth: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don’t have coronavirus.
Despite what you may have seen on social media, being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort does not mean you don’t have COVID-19 or any other lung disease.
4Myth: Ordering products from China could give you COVID-19.
COVID-19 is mainly spread through liquid droplets. So while it’s technically possible that a product ordered from China could house a virus-infected bit of liquid, the odds of that happening are almost impossible.
“I don’t think we need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in, because those types of surfaces… the virus might live there for a very short time,” Fauci told Trevor Noah on the Mar. 26 episode of Noah’s at-home The Daily Show. “But people say, ‘Should I get a package from a grocery store that says, “Made in China”?’ I wouldn’t worry about that. That’s not the issue.”
5Myth: A change in temperature can kill coronavirus.
According to WHO, “There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.” And they also note, “you can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.”
“The virology of COVID-19 does not diminish in warm temperatures,” Rocio Salas-Whalen, MD, of New York Endocrinology previously told Best Life. “Although the virus may have a seasonal cycle, it is not reasonable to expect a huge decline in transmission due to warmer weather alone. We see the largest decrease in infections when people refrain from being in locations with poor ventilation and/or large crowds.”
6Myth: Taking a hot bath will protect you against coronavirus.
There may be relaxing benefits to a hot bath, but it won’t keep you from contracting coronavirus. “Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19,” WHO asserts. “Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.”
7Myth: Mosquitoes can pass coronavirus from person to person.
There is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can spread via mosquitoes, according to WHO. “The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose,” the experts note.
8Myth: Bleach, silver solution, and garlic can protect you from coronavirus.
There are a ton of scams that have arisen in the past few weeks, leading to a flurry of complaints from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There have been false claims that drinkable silver, gargling with bleach, and garlic soup can help you avoid COVID-19. Long story short, if something sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly is. Washing your hands and limiting contact with others are still the best ways to avoid getting sick.
9Myth: Drinking alcohol can prevent you from contracting COVID-19.
Some people believe that drinking alcohol will prevent them from contracting coronavirus—so many, in fact, that WHO had to address it and debunk the myth.
It turns out, the opposite is actually true. Paul Sasha Nestadt, MD, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Anxiety Disorders Clinic, told Global Health Now, “There are risk factors with isolation, the lack of a schedule, and if alcohol is just there in the house with you. People with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also at higher risk when stressed.”
10Myth: Aiming a blow dryer up your nose can cure you of coronavirus.
There are some people who believe that aiming a hairdryer up your nose will cure you from COVID-19. In fact, Florida politician Bryant Culpepper went so far as to brag about his background as a paramedic as he publicly promoted this “cure” that he saw “one of the foremost doctors who has studied the coronavirus” reveal on cable TV. The belief is that the hot air travels up into your nostrils and kills the contagion. But, as you likely already assumed, this “cure” is just a bunch of hot hair. Hairdryers are good for drying hair, not curing or preventing coronavirus.
11Myth: Hand dryers kill COVID-19.
Just like hairdryers don’t kill COVID-19, hand dryers don’t either. WHO plainly states: “Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV.” Washing your hands regularly, however, is a definite must. And if you want to know how to wash your hands effectively, check out The Best Way to Wash Your Hands to Prevent Getting Sick.
12Myth: Drinking lots of water will help you avoid COVID-19.
Drinking lots of water through the course of the day is good for you, but will it help you avoid coronavirus? Nope. A frequently shared meme on Facebook, Twitter, and on text cites an unnamed Japanese doctor who claims drinking water every 15 minutes washes any virus down the esophagus so it can’t get into your lungs. Turns out, this isn’t true at all. Sure, it’s good to hydrate, but it won’t keep the COVID-19 contagion away.
13Myth: Essential oils and herbal supplements are effective ways to fight coronavirus.
Nope, essential oils do not prevent coronavirus either. But that hasn’t stopped a few companies from trying to sell their products as such. The FDA called out Idaho-based company Herbal Amy for selling “unapproved and misbranded products related to coronavirus disease.” Whether it’s traditional Chinese herbs or CBD/hemp related supplements, there is currently zero evidence that herb consumption will do anything to fight or cure COVID-19
14Myth: UV disinfection lamps can kill coronavirus.
Again, WHO warns, this is yet another coronavirus myth. “UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation,” they note.
15Myth: Malaria drugs can cure COVID-19.
“To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus,” WHO says plainly. Sadly, a man in his 60s in Arizona died after self-medicating with chloroquine phosphate in an apparent attempt to cure himself from the novel coronavirus. He and his wife reportedly ingested the household chemical, which is commonly used to clean fish tanks, in late March amid reports that hydroxychloroquine—which is approved by the FDA for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis—can cure coronavirus.
Responding to the incident, Daniel Brooks, MD, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, said in a statement, “We understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus. But self-medicating is not the way to do so.”
Similarly, Fauci told Noah that “there is no proven, safe, and effective direct therapy for coronavirus disease.” And though some clinical trials are underway, it’ll be months before anything is proven.
Myth 1: There’s No Science Behind the Diet
Fact: Multiple studies back the keto diet because it was first created for patients with epilepsy, since the high fat content in the diet helps to control seizures. The diet has also been seen to help maintain weight and regulate side effects in those with high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, hypertrophy, and obesity.
Myth 2: It’s High Fat and High Protein Fact: The diet isn’t all about fat and protein. The macronutrient split will vary from person to person, depending on weight goals and training goals. A common macro split for the keto diet is high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate. Translating that into numbers, it’s 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates, 70 to 75 percent fat, and 20 to 25 percent protein. I’ve practiced the keto diet and kept my macros for carbohydrates closer to 10 percent because I was starting the training process for a marathon.
Myth 3: You Can Eat Any Type of Fat
Fact: Healthy fats are highly encouraged for the keto diet. Just like with a balanced diet, it’s best to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats. Consume foods that are organic, contain virgin olive oil, are grass-fed and pasture-raised, and do not contain ingredients that are difficult to pronounce (a good indicator that it’s processed).
Tip: Space out the amount of fat you will eat during the day to prevent any stomach discomfort
Myth 4: The Only Benefit Is Weight Loss
Fact: You won’t just see the numbers going down on the scale, but you’ll also notice that you may be more focused. The keto diet helps to regulate hormones, stabilize blood sugar levels, enhance cognitive function, and improve gut health. There’s also research being done on how the diet could potentially benefit patients with cancer.
Myth 5: Exercising Is Not Recommended
Fact: Exercise! At the start of the diet, you may feel more tired, but it’s not an excuse to stop exercising. Your body is figuring out the fuel source. To get the most out of your workouts, make sure you’re eating enough and allowing enough time for recovery. You may also notice that you may need more carbs to exercise—it’s fine to up your carb intake a bit on workout days (listen to your body).
Myth 6: You Will Lose Muscle Mass
Fact: It’s possible to gain muscle mass while on the diet. A study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that following the keto diet while practicing strength training can pack on slabs of lean muscle.
Myth 7: Ketosis and Ketoacidosis Are the Same Phenomenon
Fact: They are two different conditions. Ketoacidosis is a dangerous diabetic complication when the body creates too many ketones in the blood. It’s important to note that this only happens in diabetics or those who have a history of metabolic dysfunction. As for ketosis, it is a metabolic state that occurs when we limit our carbohydrate intake and increase our fat intake, simply switching fuel sources.
Myth 8: You Will Always Feel Tired
Fact: You may experience fatigue during the adjustment period of the diet, but it goes away soon. The fatigue is commonly associated with the “keto flu,” but not everyone experiences this phenomenon. And if you do encounter the keto flu during the adjustment phase of the diet, it should last no longer than a week.
Myth 9: It’s a Short-Term Diet
Fact: The length of the diet depends on your needs and goals. A standard time frame for the diet is two to three months, and then reverting to normal eating patterns for a few weeks.
Myth 1: The flu is just a bad cold
While some people may use the words cold and flu interchangeably, they are in fact very different. Flu is a much more serious illness than the common cold.
“People need to understand that the flu is serious and can turn deadly,” Dr. Melissa Stockwell, associate professor of pediatrics and population and family health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told CBS News. “The CDC just released data that last flu season 80,000 Americans died from flu.”
Myth 2: You can get the flu from the flu shot
Some people put off or refuse to get vaccinated against the flu because they fear they will get the flu from the shot. This is simply not possible, experts explain.
“The flu vaccine is not a live virus,” Taege said. “You cannot become infected from the vaccine itself.”
Myth 3: I got a flu shot last year so I don’t need to get another one
The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu every year. Getting a flu vaccine one year does not make you immune to the following year’s flu virus.
An annual flu vaccine is needed for two reasons. The first is because the human body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time so a yearly vaccine is needed for optimal protection.
Second, since different strains of the flu circulate each year and are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu shot is reviewed and updated each year to keep up with changing flu viruses.
Pediatricians recommend flu shots for kids Myth 4: Loading up on vitamins can ward off colds and flu
When some people feel a cold coming on, they immediately load up on vitamin C to “nip it in the bud.” Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof that vitamins can help prevent a cold or flu.
“Maintaining rest, hydration, good nutrition all along is important,” Taege said, “but flooding yourself with vitamins at the time you think you’re having an onset of an illness, is not going to prevent it to the best of our knowledge.”
There is some research to support taking oral zinc tablets to help shorten the length of a cold.
Myth 5: Exercising while sick helps you “sweat out” the germs
Despite assertions that it’s possible to “sweat out” cold or flu germs, that notion is just “simply false,” Taege said.
“Exercising yourself to the point of fatigue with significant exertion while you’re ill is not a good idea. It’s not going to make it go away more quickly,” he said. “What you need to do is be sure that you’re staying hydrated and resting.”
Myth 6: You can still get the flu even if you got the flu shot, so there’s no point in getting vaccinated
Yes, it is still possible to become sick with the flu even if you’ve gotten a flu shot. However, that’s no reason to skip the vaccine — experts say some protection is better than none.
The flu vaccine is formulated each year to match the strains of the virus that health officials believe are most likely to circulate in the months ahead.
Myth 7: Going out in the cold weather without a coat will give you the flu
While illnesses from colds and flu are more common in the winter, the chilly temperature actually has nothing to do with whether or not you get sick.
“Being out in the cold really has no direct influence,” Taege said. “There has to be some exposure to the virus. So if you haven’t been in contact with someone who’s sick or with the virus itself, going outside without a proper jacket and hat on in 10 degrees F will make you cold, but it’s not going to give you influenza.” Myth 8: I’m young and healthy so I don’t need to bother getting the flu shot
The flu can strike anyone at any age and lead to severe illness. While complications are more common in very young children, the very old, and in people with compromised immune systems, healthy young people can still be affected.
In addition to getting the flu shot, the CDC recommends the following steps to avoid illness this cold and flu season:
-Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. -Try to avoid close contact with sick people. -If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. If you have the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. -Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as germs spread this way. -Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away. -Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.