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Public Health Research Guide: COVID-19 Myths, misinformation

COVID-19 Myths, Misconceptions Debunked

Covid 19 myths and Facts 2022 update


Featured Experts:

Alot of information is circulating about COVID-19, so it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not.

Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, answer your questions.

TRUE or FALSE? A negative COVID test means you are safe.

The answer is false.

If you get a COVID-19 test and the result is negative, that means you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. But if you get tested too soon after exposure to the coronavirus, it could be too early for signs of infection to show up on the test. Also, testing negative for the coronavirus now does not mean you cannot become infected in the future or that you are immune from getting COVID-19. 

TRUE or FALSE? Quercetin, essential oils and other supplements can protect you from the coronavirus or treat COVID-19.

The answer is false.

Taking quercetin, zinc, or vitamin D and other nutritional supplements cannot prevent or treat coronavirus infection or COVID-19. The same is true of essential oils — they are not effective to prevent coronavirus disease. The best ways to stay safe from COVID-19 are getting vaccinated, wearing a mask (especially in crowded or indoor settings), keeping your hands clean and practicing physical distancing.

TRUE or FALSE? Herd immunity will end the coronavirus pandemic, so vaccinations are not necessary.

The answer is false.

Herd immunity is a term that refers to cases of an infectious disease slowing down and stopping when enough people in a population have immunity, either from getting and surviving a disease or from being vaccinated.

For COVID-19, letting people get the disease would result in many people getting severely sick, suffering lasting organ damage and even dying before herd immunity could occur.

Being vaccinated for COVID-19 drastically reduces your chance of having severe COVID-19 if you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease. Immunity from the vaccine may last longer than immunity from having COVID-19. Also, vaccination reduces the number of infections that give the coronavirus an opportunity to mutate (change). Mutations (variants) of the virus (such as the contagious delta variant) can delay or even prevent herd immunity from being reached.

TRUE or FALSE? Ivermectin cures or prevents COVID-19.

The answer is false.

Ivermectin is a medicine that controls parasites in animals and humans. Irresponsible and misleading reports are circulating in social media and elsewhere that taking the drug is a safe way to prevent or cure COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized or approved the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The FDA has received reports of humans taking veterinary ivermectin. The formulas for horses and other animals are different than for people and can be very toxic (poisonous) to humans. Taking ivermectin for nonapproved reasons or in large doses can be harmful, and can lead to hospitalization and even death.

TRUE or FALSE? Warm water or saline will protect you from getting sick if you’re exposed to the coronavirus.

The answer is false.

False reports are circulating that drinking or bathing in warm or hot water, or washing out the inside of your nose with saline (salt) solution, will protect you from COVID-19 if you are exposed to the coronavirus. These reports are not true. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is very tiny and cannot be rinsed or washed out of the throat or nasal passages. The best ways to prevent infection are to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and practice hand hygiene and physical distancing.

TRUE or FALSE? Children can get COVID-19.

The answer is true.

Children can get COVID-19. In most cases, COVID-19 seems to be milder in young children than in adults, but parents and caregivers should understand that children can be infected with the coronavirus and transmit it to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and older. Johns Hopkins Medicine encourages all families to have eligible children vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only approved COVID-19 vaccine for children.

COVID-19 cases in children are increasing. This is partly because the available COVID-19 vaccines have only been recently authorized for children age 5 -11. The widespread circulation in the U.S. of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is another factor. 

In rare cases, children infected with the coronavirus can develop a serious lung infection and become very sick with COVID-19, and deaths have occurred. That’s why it is important to follow proven COVID-19 precautions such as wearing a mask when in public, indoor places to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus. We can help protect children who are too young to be vaccinated by ensuring that all of the eligible people around them get vaccinated.

TRUE or FALSE? You can get a face mask exemption card so you don’t need to wear a mask.

The answer is false.

Fake cards and flyers claiming that the bearers are exempt from mask-wearing regulations have shown up in some areas. The cards, which some people have bought online, may have official-looking logos or government insignias. They claim that people carrying them have a physical or mental condition covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that makes them unable to wear a face mask or covering.

The US. Department of Justice issued a statement about these fake mask exemptions, explaining that the cards and flyers are fraudulent.

People have tried to use the fake cards to avoid wearing a mask in public places that require them, such as some stores and restaurants. The cards are not issued by the U.S. government and are not backed by the ADA.

TRUE or FALSE? You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by injecting, swallowing, bathing in or rubbing onto your body bleach, disinfectants or rubbing alcohols.

The answer is false.

These products are highly toxic and should never be swallowed or injected into the body. Call 911 if this occurs.

Disinfectants, bleach, and soap and water may be used to clean surfaces, an important step in stopping the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Never attempt to self-treat or prevent COVID-19 by rubbing or bathing anywhere on your body with bleach, disinfectants or rubbing alcohol. Effective hand sanitizers do contain alcohol, but they are formulated to be safe for use on hands.

Learn more about protecting yourself from the coronavirus and COVID-19.

TRUE or FALSE? A vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is available.

The answer is true.

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and one has received full FDA approval. Johns Hopkins Medicine views all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Corona virus Myths and Facts

Origin of Corona virus

Myth1.:  The virus was artificially created in a lab by a rogue government with an agenda.

     Fact: Scientists analyzing the genome of COVID-19 have come to the decisive conclusion that the virus originated in nature from an animal source.

R, Zhao X, Li J, Niu P, Yang B, Wu H, Wang W, Song H, Huang B, Zhu N,et al. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet.2020;395(10224):56574.5.

Zhou P, Yang XL, Wang XG, Hu B, Zhang L, Zhang W, Si HR, Zhu Y, Li B,Huang CL, et al. A pneumonia outbr

Myth 2: COVID-19 was caused by eating animals

       Fact: The claim that COVID-19 was caused by eating animals is partly false because some of the claim is not supported by research. While it is true that many infectious diseases that have wreaked havoc on humans have come from animals, it is not entirely the case that ending the consumption of animals would put an end to such diseases. Limiting contact with animals, even assuming they are not being consumed by humans, would be necessary to lessen the chances that viruses and other pathogens transfer between species and infect humans.

Ye, Z. W., Yuan, S., Yuen, K. S., Fung, S. Y., Chan, C. P., & Jin, D. Y. (2020). Zoonotic origins of human coronaviruses. International Journal of Biological Sciences, 16(10), 1686.

Covid-19 Occurence

Myth 3: Only older people get COVID-19.

           Fact: False, See graph below. All ages can get the Covid-19 virus, but it is only people with underlying conditions and who are older too are prone to get the more severe form of the virus.

Infographic: How COVID-19 Affects Different U.S. Age Groups | Statista

Myth 4:  Men are more prone to COVID-19 than women

         Fact: . The unique mode of inheritance of the X chromosome is ultimately the cause of the immune disadvantage of males and the enhanced survival of females following immunological challenges

Pinheiro, I., Dejager, L., & Libert, C. (2011). X‐chromosome‐located microRNAs in immunity: might they explain male/female differences? The X chromosome‐genomic context may affect X‐located miRNAs and downstream signaling, thereby contributing to the enhanced immune response of females. Bioessays, 33(11), 791-802.

Bianchi, I., Lleo, A., Gershwin, M. E., & Invernizzi, P. (2012). The X chromosome and immune associated genes. Journal of autoimmunity, 38(2-3), J187-J192.

Some characteristics of the Corona Virus.

Myth 5: The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is a common cold.

           Fact: Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Raoult, D., Zumla, A., Locatelli, F., Ippolito, G., & Kroemer, G. (2020). Coronavirus infections: Epidemiological, clinical and immunological features and hypotheses. Cell Stress 2020 Mar 2  doi10.15698/cst2020.04.216 [Epub ahead of print]


Myth 6: Covid-19 is a -RNA  visrus so hard to  find a vaccine.

          Fact: Partly true. Covid-19 is a RNA virus, and by that very characteristic maybe more virulent, and prone to fast mutations.

Woolhouse, M. E., Brierley, L., McCaffery, C., & Lycett, S. (2016). Assessing the epidemic potential of RNA and DNA viruses. Emerging infectious diseases, 22(12), 2037.

Hodinka, R. L. (2016). Respiratory RNA viruses. Microbiology spectrum, 4(4).

Yi, Y., Lagniton, P. N., Ye, S., Li, E., & Xu, R. H. (2020). COVID-19: what has been learned and to be learned about the novel coronavirus disease. International Journal of Biological Sciences, 16(10), 1753.

Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW, Weissman D. mRNA vaccines - a new era in vaccinology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018;17(4):261–279. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.243

Letko, M., Marzi, A. & Munster, V. Functional assessment of cell entry and receptor usage for SARS-CoV-2 and other lineage B betacoronaviruses. Nat Microbiol 5, 562–569 (2020).


Myths: 7. Pharmaceutical companies are not doing research on vaccines

           Fact: Reasons why there are delays in finding therapies, vaccines etc.  The article below explains this. Finding a vaccine for a new virus is time consuming and expensive. By the time companies expend the time and the money, the vaccine arrives too late. The population has either got it and is immune or the epidemic has waned. So the millions of doses created to fight the epidemic go to waste, and companies lose money.

Dhama, K., Sharun, K., Tiwari, R., Dadar, M., Malik, Y. S., Singh, K. P., & Chaicumpa, W. (2020). COVID-19, an emerging coronavirus infection: advances and prospects in designing and developing vaccines, immunotherapeutics, and therapeutics. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 1-7.

Severity of disease

Myth 8: Taking non steroidal anti inflammatory agents (NSAIDS) causes severity in Covid-19.

          Fact:  There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make COVID-19 cases more severe. You should consult your doctor before changing medications.

FitzGerald, G. A. (2020). Misguided drug advice for COVID-19. Science, 367(6485), 1434-1434.


Myth 9:  Blood pressure medicines make the COVID-19 infection more severe.

           Fact: So far, the data supporting the connection between blood pressure medications—specifically, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)—and COVID-19 are scant. Studies are underway and are not conclusive.

Meng, J., Xiao, G., Zhang, J., He, X., Ou, M., Bi, J., ... & Gao, H. (2020). Renin-angiotensin system inhibitors improve the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients with hypertension. Emerging Microbes & Infections, 9(1), 757-760.

Thomson, G. (2020). COVID-19: social distancing, ACE 2 receptors, protease inhibitors and beyond?. International journal of clinical practice, e13503.


Myth 10: Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine cure COVID-19

          Fact: Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19. More information on clinical trials can be found at ClinicalTrials.govexternal icon. FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to authorize use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

Myth 11: Remdesivir, mixture of other drugs, can cure Covid-19

         Fact:  As yet there is no known cure for Covid-19. Most therapies are anecdotal and need Randomized Control Trials to prove the safety, efficacy and success rates to get FDA approval.

Kruse RL. Therapeutic strategies in an outbreak scenario to treat the novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China. F1000Res. 2020;9:72. Published 2020 Jan 31. doi:10.12688/f1000research.22211.2

Lake MA. What we know so far: COVID-19 current clinical knowledge and research. Clin Med (Lond). 2020;20(2):124–127. doi:10.7861/clinmed.2019-coron

Fantini, J., Di Scala, C., Chahinian, H., & Yahi, N. (2020). Structural and molecular modeling studies reveal a new mechanism of action of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2 infection. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 105960.

Chen, L., Xiong, J., Bao, L., & Shi, Y. (2020). Convalescent plasma as a potential therapy for COVID-19. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 20(4), 398-400.

Shanmugaraj B, Siriwattananon K, Wangkanont K, Phoolcharoen W. Perspectives on monoclonal antibody therapy as potential therapeutic intervention for Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2020;38(1):10–18. doi:10.12932/AP-200220-0773















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