Coronavirus: Myths vs. Facts
As virus spreads, so do misconceptions
March 18, 2020
The first case of the coronavirus was reported to have been contracted Dec. 1 in China. Since then, the virus has spread to over 100 countries, and with it, misconceptions and false information. Below are a series of common claims about the virus that have either been debunked or confirmed.
1. “The coronavirus isn’t even as serious as the flu.”
The idea that the flu is more dangerous than the coronavirus most likely stems from the fact that influenza has affected more people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there have been around 15 million flu illnesses and 8,200 deaths in the U.S. Despite the fact that the coronavirus has impacted nowhere near that number in the U.S., according to a projection run by the CDC that encompasses the range of four scenarios, the death toll could reach much higher and possibly into the millions. This is a worst case scenario that can be avoided if the right measures are taken, but it does highlight the significance of the situation. Another factor to consider is the public can protect themselves from the flu with a vaccination, but there is no vaccination for the coronavirus.
2. “There’s nothing I can do to prevent getting COVID-19. If I’m going to get the virus, I’m going to get it.”
According to the World Health Organization, there are multiple actions you can take to prevent contracting the coronavirus. Washing your hands, maintaining social distance, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth and covering your sneezes and coughs with your elbow or tissue are all effective ways to protect yourself from the virus.
3. “The coronavirus started from people eating bats.”
FACT… kind of.
The outbreak of the virus is believed to have started at a wildlife market at Wuhan, China. WIldlife markets carry many species of animals, such as porcupines, raccoon dogs (tanuki), snakes, bats and more. It’s uncertain what animal transferred the virus to humans, but bat, snake and pangolin are all possibilities. These animals are kept in cramped cages under harsh conditions, and are more likely to get sick when stressed. The viruses they develop can evolve to spread to other species, including humans. A similar case like the COVID-19 outbreak occurred in 2003 when civet cats transferred the SARS virus, another type of coronavirus, to humans through the market. According to CNN, China is trying to put a stop to these outbreaks by banning the consumption and farming of wild animals.
4. “My dog can get the coronavirus.”
According to the WHO, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit or contract COVID-19. Dogs can get some types of coronavirus, but not COVID-19.
5. “The elderly are at higher risk of suffering from the virus.”
The CDC states that the elderly as well as those who have serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at a high risk of getting very sick from the coronavirus. This isn’t to say that you are immune from the virus if you are young and healthy–according to Los Angeles Times, 26 people under the age of 40 have died from the virus as of March 11. Even so, it’s always best to be cautious, even if the odds are in your favor.
To find more information on COVID-19, here are some reliable sources: