Busting 3 common COVID-19 mythsSunday, October 17, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
Since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic misinformation has clouded the judgement of many. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it has sourced various myths from Google ' s most-searched questions, some of which are seen repeatedly on social media.
Speaking during the WHO's Science in 5 programme, Dr Sylvie Briand, director of the Department of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness demystified three common myths that have emerged amid the pandemic. Dr Briand's team at the WHO tracks several dangerous and infectious pathogens around the globe, including COVID-19.
Myth 1: COVID-19 and Garlic.
Jamaicans are no strangers to the idea that garlic can be used to combat COVID-19. In the initial stages of the pandemic, a voice note made the rounds on social media with a concerned woman encouraging an individual named Jeremy to “cut up the garlic, because them say garlic a antibiotic”.
But Briand said, so far, there is no evidence that garlic is a treatment for the disease that targets the lungs.
“So some studies are studying it but, again, I mean, we need to really cross-check the different studies before making any recommendation about garlic. What is for sure is that it's not good for health to abuse garlic and to take too much garlic expecting that garlic will cure the disease,” Briand said. “I understand that people can be very stressed and very anxious about this disease but there are other ways to reduce anxiety and there are other things people can do to be better protected, like washing hands, wearing a mask in crowded places, maintaining physical distancing.”
Myth 2: COVID-19 is caused by bacteria.
The WHO reports that Italian studies being circulated on social media purport that COVID-19 is not actually caused by a virus and that it's caused by a bacteria. The studies further suggest that using antibiotics can cure a COVID-19 infection.
Briand clarified: “COVID-19 disease is caused by a virus and this has been proven many times. The virus has been isolated by many laboratories in the world and we even have the genetic sequence data of the virus. So it's not a bacteria and using antibiotics to treat COVID-19 will not help because it's a virus and not a bacteria. But what we have seen in some hospitalised patients is that they were given antibiotics, not to treat COVID-19, but to prevent super infection by other bacteria, because some people are really fragile and we fear that, on top of COVID-19, they can get also another bacterial infection.”
Myth 3: Alcohol and COVID-19.
Whether it is scrolling on Facebook or opening a broadcast message on WhatsApp, one may be exposed to the reasoning that, if they contract COVID-19, consuming a lot of alcoholic beverages will sanitise and disinfect them and further kill the virus. Briand stressed that the virus is not sensitive to the alcohol we drink.
“But maybe people are confused because they see that we use hydro alcoholic gel to wash our hands but, in reality, the alcohol that is in the hydro alcoholic gel is much more concentrated. And this is certainly not something you can drink. Otherwise, it will have serious side effects. So, it's only to wash your hands, not for drinking,” she advised.
Further, Briand said the issue with the scientific process and verifying myths is that it's a very long process.
“…At the beginning, you have a hypothesis and you wonder, maybe this product or this drug can work and be a treatment for this new disease. But then you have to implement studies in different places to check if really it works or not. And so, this is the scientific process that, at the end, enables you to have evidence. But it takes time,” she explained.