Coronavirus Myths and Mistruths

Updated: May 25, 2020

This article is a collection of claims about SARS-Cov-2 that have been circulating on the internet. This list was originally at the coronavirus information page but moved here as the list is growing daily.

It is unfortunate that a lot of misinformation and fake news is being spread through social media about such a deadly virus. Many people are genuinely trying to help but they are unintentionally spreading false information.


How Do I Know If It's Fake Coronavirus news?

Routinely, false information comes in the form of a private message within one's social media network. The message will contain verbiage asking that you, "Share this information NOW! before Facebook takes it down", or something akin to this. Some of these messages probably were blocked from regular social media postings because they are false, dangerous, and some could kill people. There is no conspiracy, the information is just verifiably wrong.


Another way to identify fake coronavirus news is that the presenter always claims to have heard something from someone else, who told them, who works for some other company or government. As we say in the south, "He say, she say mess." This can be challenging because you may get the information from a friend, a medical worker, or even someone you trust that has a degree of some sort. In one popular video, an older woman claims she was a nurse for 40 years, and then proceeds to give a startling number of false and dangerous claims on how to eliminate any viruses internally. Having a practiced skill set or expertise in one field doesn't make someone an expert in coronaviruses, Sars-Cov-2, or COVID-19.

Note: I'm not an expert in virology either and I ask that you always double-check any of my claims or refutations against reputable sources.


How To Combat Fake Coronavirus News

Don't share without checking first. Visit snopes.com, factcheck.org, the CDC fact-checking site or the WHO Fact-checking site. Of course, you can always come here as well as this site is updated frequently. Remember, failing to check could cost lives. You can kill someone by sharing improper medical advice. Desperate people will believe you and not seek medical treatment.


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List of Social Media Coronavirus Claims and the Verdict

1.) Warm water will kill the virus - False

Your body's temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. How does this make any sense? The virus itself can withstand temperatures up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, the virus hides in your own cells. If your cells are not disintegrating, the virus is okay too.


2.) Lemon juice, lime water, or citrus will kill the virus inside the throat. - False

Again, if the virus is inside your cells, how can this impact it? It can't.


3.) Inhaling hot vapors will kill the virus - False

Extremely hot vapors can harm the cells in your nasal passage. This can damage your sense of smell and open you up to infection. This will not impact any viral particles in your lungs.


4.) The virus is a "weak" virus. - False

The virus can survive long enough outside of the body to infect and kill people. I'm not understanding what's so weak about it. The idea that this virus is "weak" was spawned from disinformation that this virus can't survive at "80 degrees". The meme didn't specify whether Celsius or Fahrenheit. If Fahrenheit, that's cooler than the human body. If 80 degrees celsius, that's 176 degrees Fahrenheit. It is true that it cannot survive at such a high temperature, but it doesn't need to, it just needs to pass from human to human and settle into a cozy ~98.6 degrees Fahrenheit body.


5.) Gargling an antiseptic like Listerine will kill the virus - False

Antiseptics kill bacteria as the solutions are in direct contact with the bacteria. This interrupts cellular processes. Viruses are not alive and will not be impacted by chemicals like Listerine. Johnson & Johnson's Listerine page confirms this here.


6.) Black people and Black Africans cannot contract the virus - False

This was suggested as not many Africans and African Americans were contracting the virus initially. This has now changed as tens of thousands of black people have been infected and many have died.


7.) A blow dryer in the nose can kill the virus - False

You CAN severely damage nasal tissue, opening you up to infection and ruining your sense of smell. The virus does not "live" in the nose. Once you breathe it in, it will fairly rapidly make its way inside cellular tissue and begin to replicate. A blow dryer cannot stop this process. If the virus was somehow stuck to a plate, then sure, it could be inactivated that way.


8.) People with O blood are protected against the coronavirus. - False

A single study came out of China in which they happened to noticed that there was an association between people with A blood and O blood and the number of infections. There seemed to be a higher percentage of people infected with the coronavirus with A blood type and less for O blood type. Notice that the study did not state that O blood types are immune. Regardless, more samples need to be taken to see if this is even the case. Even if there is some mutation that lowers the rate of infection, no one is genetically immune to this virus upon initial infection. All humans can get it according to this study.


9.) This virus was created to cull the population, or some other reason - False

The genetic sequences have been mapped. Highly similar versions of this coronavirus have been found in bats and pangolins. The virus mutates from host to host. Keep in mind that this coronavirus version infects about 2 to 3 people. Measles infects between 12 to 18 people. I would think that releasing a measles strain would be better if some government wished to use a virus as a bioweapon. Also, circulating is the idea that America, in particular, created the virus. For what purpose isn't clear. This flies in the face of reality in that China itself tried to hide the fact that there was a viral outbreak initially and then later closed down the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and banned wild-life animal trade. China is now claiming that the seafood market may not have been the original cause even though the first infected people were at the market. The original human source is not known so this has opened the door for conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. Of course, someone could claim that some random, shadowy character placed the virus in Hunan, but that would be just making up stories to fit a belief without any evidence wouldn't it?


10.) Going to church and praying can stop the virus - False

I wish this were true but there is no evidence that going to church will stop the spread of the virus or that a parishioner is protected from the virus. In fact, the inverse is true. Because hundreds of churches are not promoting physical distancing and some even deny that the coronavirus exists, infection rates in churches are skyrocketing. Sadly, many churchgoers will continue to get infected and what's worse, spread it to others.


11.) Alcohol in the nose can stop the virus - False

The virus does not "live" in the nose. Sure, some viral particles may propagate within the nasal mucosa, but that's not where all of the viral particles reside. The particles can reside in multiple tissue types throughout the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract. Not to mention, alcohol is a contact sterility measure. Once dry it's useless.


12.) Drinking alcohol purifies the blood and stops the virus - False

This is a dangerous one that's been popular outside of North America. Multiple fatalities have occurred from people trying to cure or prevent a coronavirus infection with different types of alcohol. Drinking alcohol will not stop the spread of infection. Consider that you need an alcohol concentration of about 70% to destroy viruses completely. An alcohol level in the blood of just .4% is about 11, 80-proof shots an hour (16.5 ounces). This is enough to kill most humans. Other alcohol forms can be deadly at even lower doses. Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl or isopropanol), which is not for consumption, can kill a human at only 8 ounces.


13.) The Flu is worse - Worse how?

More people die from the flu - True (Globally) so far.

This is a false comparison. Just because more people die from some other event doesn't automatically lessen the reality of COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 deaths are additive. We are adding more deaths not competing with other deaths. More people usually die from the flu compared with other contagious diseases because it is more widespread and creates health issues that are difficult for some people to overcome. The novel coronavirus is new on the scene and is spreading throughout the global population. Sadly, it is actually on track to kill more people than the flu after all. In Italy, the monthly death rate is currently higher for Covid-19 victims than average flu deaths over a single month's time. Lastly, the death rate over time is what we are looking at as well. The flu kills about 0.1% of its victims. COVID-19 is killing at a rate of about 5% in America while the global average is 5.8%. Even if only 1% of victims die. That's 10 times more deadly than the flu.


14.) Fruits and Veggies can stop the virus - False

Though there is strong evidence that eating lots of fruits and veggies for many years produces healthier outcomes compared to those that consume the Standard American Diet (which leads to many diet-induced diseases), there is no evidence that suddenly eating fruits and vegetables will protect you from the virus after decades of neglect. That said, to improve the chances of recovery from any illness in the future, you should be engaged in healthier eating and physical activity. (Please consult with your doctor before engaging in any fitness or dieting program).


15.) Stomach acids can kill the virus - Partially True

Stomach acids can destroy the virus but not all of it. Research is beginning to reveal that it may survive and impact the digestive tract.


16.) Sunlight can kill the virus - Partially True

This depends on the exposure time of the virus when it is in direct contact with solar radiation. However, being in the Sun cannot protect you against any virus spread by droplets. Breathing the particles in is all that is required to begin an infection.


17.) The virus dies at 20 degrees C / 80 degrees Fahrenheit. - False

A human's body temperature is 37 degrees C / 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Much higher than this.


18.) Children and babies have stronger immune systems and don't get COVID-19. - False

A number of babies around the world have died from complications of COVID-19.


19.) Teenagers don't die from the virus. - False

Yes, they do. Happens more in countries suffering from obesity and other health conditions. However, more and more teens are dying that have no known underlying medical conditions.


20.) The virus is airborne - Mixed / Incomplete

Though not strictly considered airborne, SARS-Cov-2 can be wet aerosolized and remain in the air for three hours in some conditions. Micro-droplets have been observed to remain in the air for more than 20-minutes.


21.) Only people with poor immune systems die from this. - False

Many people, young and old, with no known underlying health conditions, are dying from this virus. The human body has no initial defense against this virus so it must develop a resistance. The healthier you are helps, but there is no guarantee. There are no known humans that have a genetic immunity to this virus as of 04/03/2020.


22.) Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine can kill or halt the virus - False

This was considered after some non-scientific anecdotal evidence was brought forth. There have been no scientific studies proving that this works at this time. (Link) (Link). Unfortunately, President Trump's immature endorsement of the drug has strained unprepared suppliers and has cost the lives of at least one man that tried to self-medicate.

Note: This isn't to say that it doesn't offer some benefit. It may help reduce some inflammation markers which could improve immune response. It just hasn't been clinically tested and verified in a double-blinded placebo-controlled study. Early reports from ICU doctors are that the drugs don't appear to be doing anything for critically-ill patients.

Update: Latest study shows no benefit and may increase mortality. The dangers of leaders not trusting the science is dangerous. This is why we wait for research to be conducted. Sadly, the VA gave hydroxychloroquine to1,300 veterans as a treatment for Covid-19 risking their lives.


23.) Vitamin C and Zinc can block the virus - False

There is no evidence that vitamin C can do anything to a coronavirus. The virus attaches to the ACE-2 receptor on cells. Vitamin C does not block this process. Zinc has been shown to block viral replication but only in high amounts inside cells in the lab. Ingesting excessive amounts of Zinc can be dangerous.


24.) Warm water and vinegar can kill the virus - False

"Warm" is not very descriptive but the Sars-Cov-2 virus can withstand temperatures up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. The WHO mentions that the virus completely denatures at 132 degrees for 15 minutes. Household vinegar is a weak acid that can inhibit bacterial growth ex vivo such as in beakers and on hard surfaces. Coronaviruses are not bacteria. Stronger concentrations (~10%) could be effective but this could damage cellular tissue as well. This should go without saying, do not drink vinegar or gargle strong acetic acids to try and "kill" the virus. Again, the virus hides in cells and also, if the virus is in your lungs, how will warm water and vinegar stop it? It can't.


25.) Open-air kills the virus - False

Time of exposure in dry conditions, sunlight, temperature, etc., all play a role; but; open-air alone does not destroy the virus full-stop. Playing basketball outdoors with at least one infected person could possibly infect the entire group.


26.) Coronavirus is a "new hoax" pushed by the democrats to hurt Trump - False

As the death toll mounts, it is apparent that the virus is real and that criticisms of Trump's response to this pandemic have been warranted.


27.) The Flu vaccine increases the risk of getting COVID-19. - False

This rumor began when a non-scientist misunderstood a Chinese study about the flu shot and the coronavirus. It was looking to see if there was an interaction between the two. It found none. Excellent rebuttal to this idea posted here.


28.) Did a Chinese scientist try to warn everyone about the virus - True

Dr. Li Wenliang saw a post on WeChat from colleagues about an unknown strain of SARS coronavirus. He posted this on Weibo. He and other colleagues were forced to sign a confession that they were disrupting the social order. This has led to many Chinese citizens thinking that their government knew about this in advance. The Chinese government later rescinded the reprimand. Ai Fen, one of the doctors who sounded the initial alarm, has since gone missing.


29.) Lysol knew about the Coronavirus before the outbreak - True

How? Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, of which, the common cold is one as well. So Lysol destroys the common cold; however, COVID-19 is not the common cold. Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio program that it is.

30.) Pets can give you the virus. - Possibly

Recent studies revealed two dogs that possessed antibodies to SARS-Cov-2. One has died (cause unknown). It is believed to not be easily transferred to them, but they did have antibodies to the virus, which means it entered their systems and created an immune response. Just as we create antibodies to pollen. So though they may not be able to transmit the virus, it has been considered that pets may be able to pick up viral particles from their human partners and transfer them to someone else. The risk is low, but not impossible. In the meantime, it would be prudent for infected persons to not have their pets snuggling with uninfected persons outside of the home. Update 04/2/2020: A case in Belgium appears to reveal that a cat was infected by its owner as it had high-levels of virus in its stool. More studies on dogs and other pets need to be done.


31.) The virus will magically disappear when it gets hot - False

Rates could drop; but since humans interact a lot indoors, the virus would still be transmitted. There is some evidence that this will be seasonal but a complete halt will probably not occur.


32.) The virus (Sars-Cov-2) starts in the throat. - Not Quite

This coronavirus attacks lung tissue but it also appears to be able to infect many different tissues such as nasal tissues, throat, esophagus, intestinal, and liver.) The virus can bypass the throat and head straight to the lungs to begin its infection. It doesn't start in the throat full-stop, but it can infect cells there.


33.) 5G Networks are responsible for the coronavirus - False

Simple logic. If this were true, people would have experienced these symptoms sooner. Also, people don't develop antibodies to EM fields(radio waves). If this is not a virus, then there should be no antibodies, but there are. To think that 5G is causing the coronavirus is to deny basic virology. A map is also circulating showing the locations of 5G towers overlayed with a high number of COVID-19 cases. Sadly, conspiracy theorists fail to consider that just maybe, these networks support larger cities and that COVID-19 rates are higher there because more testing is done in these cities and that more people live there? Also, COVID-19 is spreading in Canada, Brazil, and Cameroon and there is no 5G there. Another thing, if 5G is causing these problems, how are people recovering in the hospital or at home? Did these waves magically disappear? Oh, and No, a 5G tower wasn't taken down in China to prevent the coronavirus. ABCNews has a good piece on 5G that is worth sharing.


NOTE: Some members of the medical and scientific community are concerned about the impacts of 5G, but this has nothing to do with coronavirus symptoms. I encourage fellow scientific researchers to review scientific papers and other scientific concerns as well as visit the RF guidelines for future discussion. As of now, it doesn't appear that the 5G networks are going to be operating at levels considered harmful according to most independent international scientists.


34.) Shortness of breath symptoms is because oxygen can be impacted by 5G - Unproven

This confusion stems from the fact that 5G towers can emit 60Ghz waves and these waves are absorbed by oxygen in the air. In fact, 98% of the waves are absorbed by atmospheric oxygen. A video is circulating in which a Nigerian environmental consultant, Tony Nwakalor, states that as oxygen absorbs these waves that it changes the spin of the elections so that they spin differently. This spin, he claims, interferes with oxygen binding and transportation via the hemoglobin molecule. Unlike studies that address concerns of the impact of 5G on tissues, this claim is unusual as it focuses directly on air. I have not been able to find any studies supporting the hemoglobin claim. I have found natural healing and homeopathic websites that mention the claim but with no citations. One scientific study of interest was one in which the impacts on molecular oxygen were discussed. In this study, it does appear that frequencies at 60Ghz can change the spin of the electrons in atmospheric oxygen. We know this is the case because the absorption band changed in the oxygen molecule. Since all chemistry is dependent on the position and spin of these electrons, it seems reasonable that there should be some concern. However, not every oxygen molecule would be impacted this way. Lastly, even if true, why would this be permanent? If 5G waves are what is causing this, wouldn't breathing in this oxygen allow the electrons to return to their correct orientation? Would not the body shield against these harmful waves as it enters the nose? 60Ghz waves cannot penetrate beyond the skin. A recent seven-year study on electromagnetic fields at 100 kHz to 300 GHz revealed no detrimental health effects. If 5G is the problem, how are people recovering, especially if their oxygen is gone?


35.) Bill Gates patented a chip that will be placed in the coronavirus vaccine - Patent # 060606. - False

Social media is perpetuating a story that Bill Gates patented a chip that will be placed in vaccines so that he can obtain information from you. This is a mix of four concerns: anti-vaccines, anti-Bill Gates, pro-privacy, and the coronavirus. What really happened? What Microsoft did was patent the idea that human body movement or even brainwaves could aid in data mining by providing a secure way to prove that a human is behind the activity and not a bot. The technology has nothing to do with the coronavirus or vaccines. Also, the technology to do this isn't nanotechnology (think a wearable device) so it couldn't fit in a vaccine. Additionally, the technology isn't designed to invade your privacy, this would be a technology that data miners would purposefully adopt to earn bitcoin. Lastly, it has absolutely nothing to do with the coronavirus. One version of the story is that the patent number: 060606 is a vaccine that Bill Gates created before the SARS-Cov-2 virus to trick people into getting his vaccine. Which he plans on using for nefarious purposes of course, i.e. population control, testing new drugs, mind control. Of course, Bill Gates hasn't developed a vaccine, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides billions of dollars for vaccine research. The partial patent, # 060606, has been shortened to 666 by some groups to show that this patent reflects the Mark of the Beast. The full number is WO2020060606. Conspiracy theorists have carefully taken this to mean: Wuhan 2020 - 666. The WO is in reference to WIPO and the 2020060606 is the entire number assignment and not a date. Regardless of the fact that the Patent Office is the one that assigns these, that the virus was already in existence in 2019, and that the patent has nothing to do with vaccines. The myth continues to spread. The actual patent is here.


36.) Coronavirus Victims are all Actors - False

This is a virus that is going to impact at least 80% of the world. Folks that believe this now, will not soon. These are real people folks. On a personal note: My 1st cousin and her husband are in a Detroit Hospital right now from complications of COVID-19. I have lost a few mentors and colleagues to this virus as well. Visit your local hospital to see how fake it is.


37.) A tiger at a zoo got COVID-19. - Incorrect Newsline / Unverified

A tiger does appear to have tested positive for coronavirus. How can this happen?

The way this can happen is that one of his handlers would have the virus. If the cat rubs his nose against an infected person(which all cats do) or an object that the infected person handled, the virus can go into its nose. At that point, the cat may develop antibodies to it. This is akin to how humans develop antibodies to pollen and may have allergies. There is no conclusive evidence that the tiger has the disease. The tiger tested positive for the antibodies to Sars-Cov-2. A tissue sample would reveal if there is an infection. If the lung, kidney, or heart tissue, for instance, show that the virus has entered the cells, that is now officially COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can get infected and transmit the disease, but they could transfer the particles to others if the virus is on the animal's nose, for instance. Update: 04/06/2020 - According to the New York Times, the US Department of Agriculture is reporting that other tigers and lions are showing signs of respiratory distress. If true, this will be the first known case of actual infection from Sars-COVID-2. This still needs to be confirmed tissue-wise. In Belgium, a cat appears to have picked-up the virus from his owner. In this case, it does appear that the cat was actually infected with the virus as the cat's stool possessed high-levels of SARS-Cov-2 virus. More updates to come.


38.) SARS-Cov-2 are just exosomes - False

There is an hour-long video on youtube by a Dr. Kaufman claiming to be a medical doctor and psychiatrist who is reporting that exosomes are what scientists are actually seeing. This is patently absurd. Apparently, tens of thousands of microscopists are incompetent, but even an untrained eye can see the difference between a coronavirus and an