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10 Coronavirus Myths Debunked

April 7th, 2020

coronavirus myths

With so much information circulating about COVID-19, you need to be armed with the information that will help you separate myth from fact. There are a lot of unreliable sources that aren’t basing their news on medical principles, scientific study, or proven facts. 

Steer clear of hoaxes and misinformation by getting your information from reputable organizations you know have provided well-researched news in the past, functional medicine experts,your local health authorities, and medical professionals such as myself.

Let me dispel the top myths and half-truths I’ve heard and read on social media.

Myth 1: The virus can live on surfaces for a month.

Truth: No, not that long. Researchers tested the stability of SARS-CoV-2 on plastic, stainless steel, copper and cardboard.1 The virus was still viable on plastic and stainless steel after 72 hours, that is, three days.2 In fact, every 5.6 hours, there were half as many particles on stainless steel, and the same applied after 6.8 hours on plastic. On copper, there were no virus particles detected after 4 hours. On cardboard, there were no traces of the virus after 24 hours.

However, according to a new CDC analysis, virus particles from a variety of surfaces in cabins on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were found 17 days after the passengers had disembarked.3 This ship is one of the three cruise ships whose voyages lead to 800 cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Twenty-two other studies have revealed that other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS can persist on surfaces like metal, glass, and plastic for up to 9 days. However, you should be able to wipe them away by disinfecting them with common household disinfectants.4 

The CDC recommends diluted bleach solutions or alcohol solutions containing at least 70% alcohol, you can prepare a bleach solution at home by mixing 5 tablespoons (one-third cup) of non-chlorinated bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.5

To disinfect the surfaces in your home, wear gloves. Then simply take a clean cloth and submerge it in your disinfectant. Squeezing it out gently so it remains damp, wipe across floors, counters, windows, and other surfaces. Don’t forget to clean light switches, doorknobs, house keys and car keys, cellphones, earbuds, refrigerator handles, toilet flushers, computer keyboards, steering wheels, and other surfaces that are touched regularly. 

Because the virus can live on paper and cardboard for 24 hours, open any packages and other mail you receive outside your home. Discard the packaging right away — bring a trash can outside if you need to. I’m taking the extra precaution of wiping down any loose items (like plastic bottles of shampoo, for example) that were inside the carton. If the item comes in a box within the shipping carton, I’m unboxing that outside too and throwing away the packaging. Of course I wash my hands thoroughly afterward.

If you do have to go to the store, I suggest wearing a large, button-down shirt over your shirt. Cover your face with a mask or a bandana. Use gloves while in the store if you can, even clean cotton gardening gloves are fine. When you come out, pull the shirt off over your head and put it in a bag to wash when you get home. Same thing for the bandana and your washable gloves. Remove your shoes before you enter your home.

Myth 2: The hot air from a hair dryer can kill the virus in your body.

Truth: The first data on the stability and resistance of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, from WHO showed that the virus only reduced minimally in concentration when it was exposed to temperatures between 39.4 and 112˚F. Yet heat at 132.8˚F killed it at a quick reduction rate of around 1000 units every 15 minutes.6 This indicates that heat does indeed kill coronavirus. 

The hottest setting on a typical hairdryer is about 140˚F. However, blowing hot air from a hairdryer up your nose won’t do anything except dry out your nasal passages. Drying out an area of your body that is meant to remain moist is only going to make your body need to work harder to get it back into balance and rehydrate you.

Myth 3: If you have it, you’ll know.

Truth: If you become infected with COVID-19 you probably won’t know you have it until you’re tested. In fact, you may never know if your symptoms are very mild. However, to slow the spread, stay at home if shelter-in-place orders have been given for your area. You can be contagious without even knowing it. 

That’s actually how the virus spreads in many cases. An analysis of infections in Singapore and Tianjin in China revealed that two-thirds and three-quarters of people respectively seem to have caught the virus from others who were incubating the virus yet were symptom-free at the time they transmitted it.7

Myth 4: Children won’t catch COVID-19.

Truth: According to data published in the journal Pediatrics in mid March, more than 90% of the cases in children have been mild or moderate.8 A small percentage of children develop serious illness from COVID-199 and at least one infant in the US has died to date.10 Children aren’t immune, so it’s important to take the recommended precautions for children as well as adults.

Myth 5: A nasal saline rinse will prevent infection with the virus.

Truth: Saline nasal irrigation is a natural therapy advocated by many functional medicine practitioners, including myself, for nasal congestion. It has also been found to be useful for allergic rhinitis and chronic rhinosinusitis.11 Many people use the technique to flush out irritants, substances that cause inflammation, and infectious agents. 

There are conflicting results regarding whether this practice can help with viruses.12 So while it hasn’t been proven to help with viruses, hydrated nasal passages are one of your body’s defenses against infection.

Myth 6: Vitamin C will keep you from catching COVID-19.

Truth: High-dose vitamin C is being used intravenously as a treatment for those in the early stages of a COVID-19 infection.13 Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cell functions in both your innate and adaptive immune systems.14 Vitamin C deficiency can result in an impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.15 While vitamin C cannot prevent COVID-19 infection, it does support your immune system and a strong immune system is key to helping your body defend itself.

My family and I are supplementing with vitamin C. High doses, such as the 3000 mg I took yesterday, can cause diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, gastritis, fatigue, flushing, headache, and insomnia. I’ll be scaling back a bit however others can tolerate it well. This vitamin is water-soluble, so any amount that your body isn’t using is excreted.

Myth 7: You can spray alcohol or bleach all over your body to kill the virus.

Truth: This is just very dangerous. Wash your body thoroughly and frequently with your regular shower and bath products. Wash your hands frequently and properly in hot water for at least 20 seconds. This is important because soap inactivates viruses by breaking down the protective fat layer on them.16 You need to scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, (don’t forget those thumbs!) and under your nails for at least 20 seconds.17 That’s the “Happy Birthday” song, sung twice through. 

Remember to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after visiting a public space, touching surfaces outside of your home — including such things as money, packaging, and gas pumps — and before and after eating. If you’re caring for a sick person, wash your hands before, during, and after caring for them.18

However, you should never spray bleach on yourself. It’s ok to use a sterile alcohol wipe on a small area, but don’t do this all over your body. The important point is that washing your hands frequently with soap of any kind is going to do the job. Antibacterial soap isn’t necessary. Stick with the varieties you’ve been using so you don’t add anything new to your routine. You don’t want to introduce a new product into your routine that may end up being irritating.

Myth 8: Warmer weather will stop the spread of the virus.

Truth: We don’t know yet. Flu generally lessens in summer. However, at least one outbreak of a similar virus began in April and spread quickly throughout the summer months.19 We simply don’t know yet if this virus will lessen or not during the summer. COVID-19 is currently spreading in warm places, including in dry areas such as Arizona. It is much more likely that other measures will stop the spread such as restricted social contact.20

Myth 9: Drinking a lot of water will flush the virus into your stomach and kill it.

Truth: I always advocate drinking plenty of fresh, filtered water for optimal health. However, it will not flush the virus into your stomach and kill it. This is a virus that attacks your respiratory system, not your digestive system. And once it’s in your body, drinking water won’t kill it. 

However, drinking warm fluids throughout this time will keep you hydrated, which hugely contributes to overall good health and maintaining the function of every system in your body.21 My Collagen Bone Broth, which tastes just like chicken soup, is a great choice for hydration.

Myth 10: If you’ve had COVID-19 and you can hold your breath for more than 10 seconds, your lungs have not been affected.

Truth: This particular myth is rooted in half truth. The 10-second test is one of the pulmonary function tests used to measure the effect of chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and cystic fibrosis, and to determine one’s ability to tolerate surgery and medical procedures.22 The best way to find out if coronavirus has affected your lungs is to visit a health professional.

Truth is Good Medicine

Although there is a lot of false information circulating online right now that encourages fear, you have an amazing amount of resources available to help you find the truth, including my previous article on this topic, which you can find here. There are many false and misleading claims flying around that can wind up being damaging to your health. 

Continue following The Myers Way® and eat organic fruits and vegetables as well as grass-fed meats, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish. Avoid toxic and inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol. Exercise indoors, remain positive, get plenty of sleep, and use this time to take great care of yourself and your family. 

Continue to follow the guidelines for your region, handwash, distance yourself socially, and you’ll put yourself and your loved ones in the best position to get through this challenging time with your health intact — or even healthier than before!

Article Sources

  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_w
  4. https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(20)30046-3/fulltext
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fcleaning-disinfection.html
  6. https://www.who.int/csr/sars/survival_2003_05_04/en/
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/12/coronavirus-most-infections-spread-by-people-yet-to-show-symptoms-scientists
  8. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2020/03/16/peds.2020-0702.full.pdf
  9. https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-children-serious-illness.html
  10. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/coronavirus-first-known-child-death-in-us
  11. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/coronavirus-first-known-child-death-in-us
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778074/
  13. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339511104_High-dose_intravenous_vitamin_C_treatment_for_COVID-19
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
  15. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339511104_High-dose_intravenous_vitamin_C_treatment_for_COVID-19
  16. https://www.fastcompany.com/90477657/do-all-natural-soaps-and-cleaners-protect-against-covid-19
  17. https://www.unicef.org/thailand/coronavirus/everything-you-need-know-about-washing-your-hands-protect-against-coronavirus-covid-19
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
  19. https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html
  20. https://www.who.int/influenza/resources/research/research_agenda_influenza_stream_2_limiting_spread.pdf
  21. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-staying-hydrated
  22. https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/pulmonary-function-tests.pdf
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