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Public Health Research Guide: COVID-19 Myths, misinformation

COVID-19 Myths, Misconceptions Debunked

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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