10 Myths About Coronavirus and COVID-19

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN on March 30, 2021
  • Woman wearing a face mask working on a laptop in cafe
    Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Myths and Facts
    Understanding the basics of coronavirus infection is key to preventing further spread of COVID-19, which is still infecting thousands of people a day. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction. We know that we can’t believe everything we read and hear, but psychologists have found that stressed-out humans don’t spend much time considering the reasoning behind claims. Instead, we latch onto explanations and solutions that feel right.

    During a pandemic, it’s easy to get caught up in myths about disease spread, treatment and cures. Learn the facts behind these 10 coronavirus myths.
  • sunscreen-bottle-with-sunglasses-on-beach
    Myth No. 1: Hot weather and sunlight will kill the virus.
    Fact: The novel coronavirus spreads easily person to person, even in hot weather. The WHO (World Health Organization) notes, “from the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.”

    It’s true that sunlight can kill viruses, but we don’t yet know how much sun exposure might be necessary to destroy the virus. In any case, it’s unlikely that sun exposure will interrupt person-to-person transmission of coronavirus.
  • hair dryer comb brush mirror and towels on bathroom counter
    Myth No. 2: Blowing hot air up your nose can prevent COVID-19.
    Fact: Heat can kill viruses, so it’s easy to see why people might think that directing hot air into your nose with a blow dryer might be one way to ward off the infection. But healthcare providers say this technique may cause more harm than good. Hot air can dry out your nasal passages and may lead to cracks in the tissue lining the nose, which may make it easier for germs to get in.

    WHO does not recommend using hot air to fight coronavirus.
  • woman-using-neti-pot
    Myth No. 3: Saline nasal rinses fight coronavirus infection.
    Fact: Some people with allergies and chronic sinus infections regularly rinse their nasal passages with saline (a weak saltwater mixture) to ease symptoms. It seems possible that rinsing the sinuses might flush out bacteria and viruses, but there is no evidence that nasal rinses prevent respiratory infection, according to WHO.

    Because the novel coronavirus can live for up to three days on plastic surfaces—such as the squeeze bottles and neti pots used to rinse the nose—some doctors recommend skipping sinus rinses all together right now.
  • Hydroxychloroquine Medicine Isolated on White
    Myth No. 4: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine prevent coronavirus.
    Fact: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are two prescription medications that are approved to prevent and treat malaria. In China, doctors used chloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19 and it seemed to help. But doctors elsewhere in the world say there is not a significant benefit compared to standard care, and it can be harmful.

    Do not take these medications unless prescribed by a healthcare provider. They can cause serious, even fatal, side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally announced the withdrawal of its emergency approval of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.
  • female-researcher-looking-in-centrifuge
    Myth No. 5: The novel coronavirus was created by humans.
    Fact: The first known COVID-19 outbreak was in Wuhan, China, which is home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. That laboratory studies viruses, which led people to wonder if SARS-CoV-2 (the new coronavirus) was a laboratory creation. But scientists who have carefully studied the structure of the virus have concluded that “SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or purposefully manipulated virus.” The virus includes features that humans wouldn’t have created.
  • Middle age Caucasian woman sick in bed
    Myth No. 6: COVID-19 is like getting a cold.
    Fact: Some coronaviruses can cause the common cold, but the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is different. "Mild to moderate COVID-19"—representing about 80% of cases—can manifest with fever and body aches in addition to upper respiratory symptoms, which is not common in people who get infected with an ordinary cold virus. In about 14% of COVID-19 cases, people are severely ill and need hospitalization and supplemental oxygen to help with breathing. Critically ill patients make up about 6% of COVID-19 cases and often require ventilatory support with a mechanical respirator. Complications with a cold are rare, but they can happen.

    It’s true that people infected with the new coronavirus may not develop symptoms or may develop very mild symptoms, but this is equally as dangerous: Asymptomatic carriers of the virus can unknowingly spread it to people at risk of becoming critically ill.
  • young woman holding her hands over her mouth
    Myth No. 7: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don’t have coronavirus.
    Fact: There’s really no way for you to tell whether or not you have the virus, at least without going through official medical testing. A meme going around social media in the early days of the pandemic suggested that anyone who can hold a deep breath for more than 10 seconds without chest pain or tightness likely did not have coronavirus. The truth is that it’s possible to be infected and not show any symptoms at all. A person who looks and feels healthy—and can hold their breath without problem—could have the virus.
  • grouping of fruit juices in glasses on table
    Myth No. 8: Vitamin C can keep you from catching coronavirus.
    Fact: Vitamin C is crucial for the healthy functioning of our immune systems. A person who is vitamin C-deficient is more susceptible to infection than people with healthy levels of vitamin C. But vitamin C deficiency is extremely rare in the United States and other developed countries, and there’s no evidence that bumping up your vitamin C intake decreases the risk of infection.

    Some physicians are currently using high doses of intravenous (IV) vitamin C to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients. But right now, “there is no clear or convincing evidence that it works,” according to Harvard Health.
  • mid adult man uses sanitizer wipe to disinfect delivered groceries
    Myth No. 9: You should scrub down your groceries and mail.
    Fact: The novel coronavirus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel, so some people recommend scrubbing down groceries and packages before bringing them into the house. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) says “there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19,” noting that the theoretical risk of infection is tiny; the virus primarily spreads person-to-person via close contact.

    Instead of scrubbing your purchases and packages, simply wash your hands well with soap and water after handling groceries or mail.
  • cashier returning credit card to woman in mask and gloves
    Myth No. 10: Wearing gloves when you go out decreases the chance of infection.
    Fact: Healthcare workers routinely use latex or nitrile gloves to protect themselves when caring for people with infectious diseases. Because the gloves become contaminated when exposed to body fluids and other potentially infectious substances, healthcare providers change gloves frequently. Wearing gloves when you go grocery shopping doesn’t provide substantial protection. For one, the gloves may rip or break; they’re not designed for everyday wear. Two, gloves can also become covered with germs, including the coronavirus; if you touch your face, you might get sick.

    Save the gloves for healthcare providers, and diligently wash your hands instead.
10 Myths About Coronavirus and COVID-19 | Coronavirus Myth Busters

About The Author

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse-turned-writer. She’s also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. Most recently, she is the author ofThe First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son's Formative Years.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Apr 1
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.