The spread of Covid-19 has been matched only by the spread of misinformation circulating in response to the pandemic.
The misinformation is most prevalent on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and text messaging. Despite companies like Facebook and Google trying to flag the more widely spread fraudulent news, some of it is unavoidable.
With that in mind, we’re correcting the record on some of the more common coronavirus myths being shared right now.
Hot water doesn’t kill it
A myth that just won’t go away is that coronavirus can be killed by water over 27C.
“The average temperature of a human body is somewhere around 37C (98.6 F), which means that if this myth were true no one would ever get sick. It’s also worth noting that you can’t ‘kill’ a virus, because it’s not technically alive in the first place, so this idea is doubly wrong,” epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz said.
Chloroquine is not a proven cure
The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and the similar compound chloroquine, is currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe, and even deadly, side effects if used inappropriately, including heart failure and toxicity.
This drug is currently being promoted as a potential cure by US president Donald Trump and Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer.
Meyerowitz-Katz said the suggestion chloroquine could cure the virus was based on a seriously flawed paper.
“Other medications that have been promoted as miracle cures for coronavirus have not held up to closer scrutiny either. Yes, some drugs might improve survivability with the disease, but at the moment all we have is theories and hope, not good evidence that you can be cured using fish tank cleaner.”
Drinking lots of water won’t prevent it
While drinking water is good, you can’t prevent coronavirus by simply keeping your throat moist.
“It is very simply not true that you can prevent viral infection by drinking water, if for no other reason than the main method of transmission for coronavirus appears to be droplets landing on surfaces, not virus stuck in your throat,” Meyerowitz-Katz said.
Herd immunity would mean hundreds of thousands of deaths
For herd immunity to be effective without a vaccine, Meyerowitz-Katz says somewhere between 60% and 70% of all people would have to be infected. That would mean hundreds of thousands of deaths at the very least.
Blow drying your face and nose doesn’t help
A persistent myth is that hot air or saunas can kill off coronavirus. The WHO has said hand dryers alone do not have any impact on coronavirus, while others have warned that putting a blowdryer on your face, mouth, or up your nose can cause damage without having any impact on coronavirus.
Your local hospital isn’t giving out miracle prevention tips
If you’ve seen a viral post that looks like the one below, claiming to be from a hospital mentioning several of the above methods to avoid coronavirus, then it’s not true.
Busloads of people aren’t clearing shelves in regional towns
There has been a lot of misinformation, largely targeted at the Asian community in Australia, claiming that organised groups of people are hoarding goods and emptying supermarket shelves.
A Footscray factory isn’t hoarding supplies to ship to China
Another claim spreading on Facebook is that a factory in Footscray, Victoria was stockpiling food and medical supplies to ship back to China. Victoria Police investigated and found the claims to be false.
This is separate from the Sydney Morning Herald’s report that at least two Chinese development companies have reportedly been shipping back medical supplies to China.