Busting myths on COVID-19

Social media replete with misinfo on the disease

The fuss about the invisible virus is something that many in the public are not able to understand. That is precisely the reason to be extra careful since one can never know where the virus is, Rajeev Jayadevan, president, Indian Medical Association, Kochi, has said.

Science has given knowledge about the highly contagious nature of the virus and how it is transmitted, but a number of myths about it are being spread through the social media. People often believe what is spread through social media without fact checking.

Starting with how the novel corona virus (SARS-nCOV-2) spreads, the disease (COVID-19) it causes, the prophylactic measures and treatment, social media spread many myths. It was important that the myths were busted continuously, said Dr. Jayadevan.

One of the misinformation circulated through the social media was wearing masks would keep the virus away and gargling would kill it. Hundreds of ‘tips’ on prophylactic measures too are spread, including consumption of Vitamin C tablets and garlic. The idea is to boost immunity. P.K. Sasidharan, Emeritus Professor in Family Medicine, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, says a balanced diet gives people immunity. While Vitamin C is very much part of the balanced diet, just taking these vitamin tablets will not make one immune to any disease and vitamin supplements should be taken as per a doctor’s advice. Including lemon or garlic in the diet was good as it was a mix of all the nutrients that ensured a balanced diet and better immunity, he said.

Doctors never recommended Vitamin C supplements unless there was a suspected or known deficiency of the nutrient, said Dr. Jayadevan.

Another myth among Malayalis was the virus could not harm them as they generally practised cleanliness. Social distancing and hand hygiene were the only ways to keep the virus away, said the medical professionals.

The general public had to behave the way doctors behaved in hospitals, said Dr. Jayadevan. Hand hygiene was a practice in every hospital that intended to keep antimicrobial resistance at the minimum.

The public should understand that virus spread with some reasonable contact with an infected person or when exposed to sneeze or cough by an infected person. Reasonable contact could be any time period when the two could have exchanged touch or touched the same surface when the virus was highly contagious. The contaminated hand became the source of infection when a healthy person touched his/her face without washing it.

Dr. Jayadevan said the use of alcohol should be limited to cleaning hands. Also, hot water baths had not been known to offer any protection from the disease. But drinking 2 to 2.5 litres of water a day was part of a balanced diet, said Dr. Sasidharan.


Getting newspapers at homes or buying commodities have not been known to transmit the virus, according to the Indian Medical Association, Kerala. This had been a major worry of many people who had sought the opinion of experts on virus transmission, said Dr. Jayadevan.

While people have also been anxious about the treatment available, world over there have been only small experiments with hydroxyl chloroquine. But social media is already flooded with the cure. “Since studies are still on, saying anything about it would be rather premature,” said Dr. Jayadevan.

Shyama Rajagopal

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:02:23 PM |

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