Common CoronaVirus COVID-19 Memes and Myths

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We know that in recent years memes spread false information all over the Internet. Coronavirus is no exception. Here are some of the top misinformation Coronavirus memes seen floating around.

Before we start if you would like a very detailed understanding of – Everything you need to know about CoronaVirus – COVID-19 – check out my detailed post here.

More people die of the flu every year.Who cares?

We must start with some more definitions and knowledge here. This one is a little more complicated. Stay with me.

What is the flu?

There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D that make up what we know as ‘the flu’. Influenza types A, B, and C can cause illness in humans. But types A and B cause seasonal epidemics of respiratory illness nearly every year. A and B mutate frequently, usually a tiny amount. If you get one strain you usually won’t get that same strain again. Because the virus is always mutating, you can get versions of the flu many times. A flu shot is a mix of the various strains of known A and B influenza virus in a tiny amount to allow you to build up antibodies. 

Sometimes strains of the Human-only Influenza A virus mutate a large amount by mixing with an Animal-only Influenza A virus. This can cause a pandemic because humans have no immunity to this new Influenza strains and there is no vaccine for it. This happens rarely. (4 times in the last 100 years) The most recent was 2009 H1N1 or more commonly known, Swine Flu.

So let’s compare:

H1N1/09 Swine flu Pandemic compared to COVID-19

At least one in five people worldwide were infected with Swine flu during the first year of the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic. You or someone you know likely had it. It was pretty similar to the regular flu, so you probably didn’t even know. Symptoms usually lasted 4–6 days. The R0 was 1.75. Strangely, children had no preexisting immunity to the new strain but adults, particularly those older than 60, had some degree of immunity. There likely was a similar strain of the virus during the time that people over 60 were alive. Overall, few people died. The CFR was just 0.02 percent. If you want to learn what all these acronyms mean click here for my detailed post explaining it.

COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly with a R0 of 2.3 – 6.6 and  the CFR is currently 2-14%

Virus Name Basic Reproduction Number(R0) Case Fatality Rate (CFR)
H1N1/09 R0 = 1.75  CFR = 0.02%
COVID-19 R0 = 2.3-6.6 CFR = 2-14%

COVID-19 spreads much faster and has a much larger CFR than H1N1 did.

Flu stats vs COVID-19

Because the regular flu has vaccines, right from the start comparing these two is kinda moot. But let us do what we can here. 

The flu is a tricky one. Influenza is rarely listed as a cause of death on death certificates, even when people die from influenza-related complications. Most people who die from influenza-related complications are not given diagnostic tests to detect influenza. So the CDC uses some statistics, averages and more to come up with numbers. That’s why the numbers for flu and flu deaths are all over the place. No one really knows. 

These are the best fact based numbers I could find. The flu has a R0 average of 1.3 and CFR 0.13%

Virus Name Basic Reproduction Number (R0) Case Fatality Rate (CFR)
Seasonal-Influenza A  R0 = 1.3 CFR = 0.13%
COVID-19 R0 = 2.3-6.6 CFR = 2-14%

 

TL;DR – These numbers are really hard to predict but COVID-19 will likely be a more serious disease with a much higher R0 rate and a much higher CFR than the flu. Especially in high risk parts of the population.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.07.20021154v1
http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-flu-h1n1-pandemic/swine-flu-infected-1-in-5-death-rate-low-study-shows-idUSBRE90O0T720130125
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0909/0909.2417.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2715422/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1750-2659.2009.00073.x
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19545404
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

The Media is responsible for spreading this panic. There is nothing to worry about.

As more information about this virus makes its way into our day to day lives we are dealing with an large increase in misinformation coming out too. COVID-19 changes rapidly. Day to day and hour to hour right now. News and media is trying to keep up. In a one hour news show you are likely to hear them contradict themselves several times. This is not so much about conspiracy theories as it is they are having trouble staying on top of everything.

“The best predictor that I’ve found of people believing in conspiracy theories is that they have a worldview in which events and circumstances are caused by shadowy groups acting in secret for their own benefit and against the common good,” he says. “So every new event or circumstance that they see, they’re likely to go to that same explanation – it must be caused by a conspiracy.”

“People then ignore – and even resent – professional medical advice, leading to behaviour that spreads the infection – not getting tested and not to self-isolating, for instance. A recent study found that people who believe conspiracy theories – around forty per cent of the UK – are more likely to ignore health advice.

This virus and the response of several gov’ts around the world IS very much something to worry about. Educate yourself like you are right now, and take the time to correct others who are continuing to spread wrong information.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/facebook-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories
https://www.propublica.org/article/i-lived-through-sars-and-reported-on-ebola-these-are-the-questions-we-should-be-asking-about-coronavirus

 

Lysol or Clorox can kill Coronavirus. It says so on the package.

 

Different strains of the Coronavirus has been around since 1960’s. Information on the back of the Lysol and Clorox label is talking about the older version of the coronavirus BEFORE Dec 31, 2019. 

Coronavirus (the older kinds NOT COVID-19) is thought to be responsible for some of the “colds and flus” that go around each year. This is  why it’s on the back of your Clorox and Lysol  bottle. We don’t really test which  virus is responsible for your cough. It could be Rhinovirus, Influenza or a different strand, like a Coronavirus. You just stay home and cough it out. As there is no cure or vaccine for them, it usual is not tested by your local dr.
These older version are not nearly as contagious or likely to kill you as COVID-19. This is a different more serious beast.

Clorox and Lysol have not currently been tested against COVID-19. Their website claims – specific Lysol and Clorox products have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on hard, non-porous surfaces.  It has not yet been tested if this is true or not. These products can not be used on you as a human. They will not work on your hands, eyes, mouth etc. It MAY help on infected surfaces like a counter, or keyboard but again this has not been tested. As both websites state – your best bet is to stay away from infected persons.

https://journals.lww.com/pidj/Fulltext/2005/11001/History_and_Recent_Advances_in_Coronavirus.12.aspx
https://www.lysol.com/healthy-home/understanding-coronavirus/
https://www.clorox.com/how-to/disinfecting-sanitizing/cold-flu-other-diseases/help-prevent-the-spread-of-the-human-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/
https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/health/lysol-clorox-coronavirus-disinfectants-trnd/index.html

CoronaVirus is caught from Corona Beer.

No. Just no. I hope I really don’t need to seriously explain this one to anyone, but CoronaVirus is not caused by the popular beer.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

A vaccine is almost ready to save us all.

 

Currently there is no Vaccine for COVID-19. There are many news articles that are talking about possible vaccines. Even if a vaccine happens it generally will require many tests – animal testing, and then human testing, before it will be able to be distributed among the population. It also will require time to manufacture it. Do not expect a vaccine to be available before 2021.

Companies are currently working on treatments for the 20% who get serious complications. There is one drug – Remdesivir and chloroquine – that has been used for SARS and MERS patients that may have potential.

There is currently no cure for COVID-19.

TL;DR The is no Vaccine. One will likely not be ready till 2021. There are treatments currently being developed. There is no cure.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0282-0
https://pipelinereview.com/index.php/2020022573876/Vaccines/Moderna-Ships-mRNA-Vaccine-Against-Novel-Coronavirus-mRNA-1273-for-Phase-1-Study.html

Hot weather will stop the virus.

There is zero indication that warm weather will do anything to stop the spread of this virus. Australia, Thailand, China, and many other currently infected countries climates are currently warmer than some of the USA and Canada and they still have the virus there.

In colder weather, people tend to group up more and stay indoors more which could allow the spread of the virus between people easier, but overall hot weather itself will not likely have any impact on the virus spreading.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
https://time.com/5790880/coronavirus-warm-weather-summer/

A mask is pointless. / A mask is required. 

 

Face masks can help if used correctly in certain circumstances. If you are sick you 100% should wear a mask to help stop the droplet spread to others. Just like covering your mouth when you cough, masks DO help against droplet spread.

Doctors are trained to use masks properly and the general public isn’t.  Normal people’s masks get wet, put their hands under them, wear them for too long, reuse or take them on and off constantly. Wearing masks can also prevent you from touching your mouth and nose with your hands directly which is helpful.Masks are not as effective against airborne spread which may be possible with COVID-19. The tiny molecules are too small and can pass through. They can also float into your eyes as well. N95 respirators if specifically fitted to your face to stop all air gaps may help. The N95 masks you buy from the hardware store will likely not be air tight and will not help.

All that being said, masks when used when visiting with someone who is infected can help stop the spread of the disease for the limited interaction. This is why health care professionals wear them. If you are visiting someone infected, you should wear a mask for the visit. When you are just walking around, they probably won’t help you that much. Although buying a mask seems like an easy thing people can to to help stop the spread, practising Nonphamestical Interventions (hand washing, limiting contact with others, no handshakes, etc) will likely help you much more.

https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html

I Buy Things From China. Will the Packages Infect Me?

This is pretty unlikely. Currently the virus is not thought to stay on surfaces for extended times. It is very unlikely that anything that was sent from China would still have the virus on the package.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

 

Final Thoughts On CoronaVirus Memes

I hope that helps clear up some of the common COVID-19 Coronavirus memes and myths floating around out there. I will continue to update this post as needed. Please check out the very detailed part 1 – Everything you need to know about COVID-19.

 


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