A look at the Myths and the Misinformation
How and Where Coronavirus Began (How did we get Here?)
The Coronavirus ( COVID-19 )most certainly originated in Wuhan, the sprawling provincial capital of Hubei in central China that is home to 11 million people.
It has been said that the SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in bats. However, no bats were sold at the Wuhan seafood market, which suggests that another yet-to-be-identified animal acted as a steppingstone of sorts to transmit the virus to humans.
But in general, the most common way coronaviruses spread is through respiratory droplets produced from coughs and sneezes, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). Tests have also found the virus is present in patients’ stool, suggesting it may be able to spread through fecal contamination. However, it is still unclear whether people can catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces, the CDC says.
The WHO has now replaced the temporary name for the disease with an official name: CoronaVirus Disease, abbreviated as COVID-19.
From eating garlic to gargling with mouthwash, the public space is full of information about how to prevent corona virus disease. Some of the most common and current myths include:
- It can be killed by cold water
- Prevented through saline spray
- Detected by thermal scanners and
- Spread through pets
The Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories include:
- The coronavirus is a biological weapon stolen by the Chinese from a laboratory in Canada and grown in a biological laboratory facility near Wuhan. It does not have a natural origin. The facility under reference is the China’s National Biosafety Laboratory, a branch of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
- Some have claimed the virus was deliberately released – by multi-national pharmaceutical companies looking to make a killing by marketing a vaccine, apparently.
- Several are circulating, claiming for example that 2019-nCoV is in fact a bioweapon that has either been intentionally deployed or escaped/stolen from a secure top secret government laboratory in the USA.
- Some have claimed that it’s a plot (by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or another NGO or Big Pharma) to sell vaccines—apparently unaware that there is no vaccine available at any price.
What the Experts are Saying
To quell the gale of myths and conspiracy theories, the World Health Organization (WHO) and several experts on viral diseases and epidemiology recently issued a statement in the Medical Journal, The Lancet:
“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumors and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),
and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens. This is further supported by letters from the presidents of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and by the scientific communities they represent. Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus. We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture. We want you, the science and health professionals of China, to know that we stand with you in your fight against this virus.
We invite others to join us in supporting the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of Wuhan and across China. Stand with our colleagues on the frontline!”
Conclusion and Parting Thoughts
The best medical advice for dealing with 2019-nCoV:
- Thoroughly cook meat,
- Wash your hands, and stay away from sick people
Basically, the same advice you get for avoiding any cold or airborne virus. Face masks don’t help much, unless you are putting them on people who are already sick and coughing.