Updated April 24, 2020.
We know that misinformation on the internet and the rapidly changing guidance from government agencies, the media, and medical professionals can lead to tons of confusion and stress. These facts are here to help calm your nerves, empower you with accurate information, and put Covid-19 into perspective.
Misconception: Covid-19 only affects older people
Facts: While older people and those who are immunocompromised are more at risk of developing severe disease or complications from the virus, Covid-19 can affect anyone at any age. According to the CDC, nearly 38% of the first 500 hospitalized patients in the U.S. were notably younger, between the ages of 20 and 54. And in Los Angeles County, 80% of those who have tested positive are people aged 18-65, while 42% are in the 18-40 age group. And while children appear to be some of the least at-risk individuals, anyone infected can spread the virus, putting the vulnerable at risk and possibly creating more infections than our healthcare system can care for.
Misconception: Animals can spread Covid-19 to humans
Facts: Last month, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City became the first animal in the U.S to test positive for Covid-19. Since then, several other animals at the same zoo, as well as two household cats in New York, have also been confirmed as carriers of the virus. This is believed to be the result, however, of close contact with infected humans. The CDC and World Health Organization both agree that there is no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans or have played a significant role in their spread. That being said, it appears Covid-19 can be passed from humans to animals. It is recommended that pet owners limit their pets’ interactions with other animals until more information is known about the virus. This means keeping cats indoors, walking dogs on leashes at least 6 feet apart from other people, and avoiding dog parks. If you are sick with Covid-19, you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just as you would with people.
Misconception: Hand dryers can kill the virus
Facts: Hand dryers, spraying chlorine on yourself, and UV disinfection lamps on your skin are not effective ways to kill coronavirus. Further, chlorine, alcohol, and UV radiation can irritate your skin.To best protect yourself, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Misconception: The flu shot will protect me
Facts: Covid-19 is caused by a new, entirely different virus than the flu and thus requires a separate vaccine. While a vaccine is in development, known medications are ineffective in preventing or treating Covid-19. While it may not protect you from Covid-19, the flu vaccine still plays a vital role in protecting you and others from getting the flu.
Misconception: Antimalarial drugs, such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, have been proven to be effective against coronavirus
Facts: Researchers are rushing to study the ability of a wide range of drugs to fight the coronavirus. Hydroxychloroquine is one of the many under investigation. While the FDA recently approved it for emergency use in hospitalized patients, however, the agency has warned consumers against taking the drug outside of a hospital or clinical trial setting after serious poisoning and deaths were reported. The FDA said it became aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients who were treated with both malaria drugs. It also warned physicians against prescribing the drugs for Covid-19 outside of a hospital. Whether this practice is truly safe and effective, and who will have the greatest chance to benefit, has yet to be proven with scientific research.
Misconception: Antiviral medication, Avigan is a proven treatment for Covid-19
Facts: While there has been much media speculation around Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as a possible treatment for Covid-19, the drug has yet to be proven effective against the virus. Developed by Fujifilm, the drug known generically as favipiravir was approved by Japanese regulators in 2014 to treat influenza, but can only be manufactured at the request of the government for a new virus. Though several clinical trials are testing its use against Covid-19, studies show the drug can have serious side effects, including birth defects and other fetal abnormalities..
Misconception: Disinfectants, such as bleach, could potentially be injected in the body to fight coronavirus
Facts: Disinfectants should never be ingested or injected into the body. Use of household disinfectants, such as bleach and cleaners, against the coronavirus should be limited to use on areas like hard surfaces. They are composed of chemicals that can be harmful to the human body, especially if injected or ingested. These chemicals should be handled with caution and only used as intended per their safety labels. It’s important that people reach out to their primary care providers if they have any questions about Covid-19.
Check out our additional coronavirus resources for more information.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.