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Page reviewed at 09:30 on 7th July 2020.

COVID-19 myths, busted

There’s one thing on everyone’s mind at the moment. COVID-19. Unfortunately, this also means that there are a lot of rumours and myths going around. That’s why we’ve created a list of commonly-shared myths, demystified by our Babylon doctors.

Myth 1 - The virus that causes COVID-19 is man-made.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. This means that it originated from an animal. It’s likely to have jumped the species barrier to humans. This process of jumping species was probably how the virus that causes COVID-19 came about. It was not made in a lab.

Myth 2 - Hand sanitizers don't work to kill the virus that causes COVID-19.

Whilst this is true for a few strains of viruses, for example, the norovirus that causes stomach bugs, it’s not the case with coronaviruses. Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol will kill the virus that causes COVID-19.

Myth 3 - Pets can transmit the virus too.

There is some evidence that the virus which causes COVID-19 can infect pets. We don't yet know if pets can pass the infection on to humans. It’s still early days and scientists are keeping a close eye on things like this. So you should always wash your hands properly after touching any pets.

Myth 4 - Heat, applied to the skin or taking a hot bath will kill the virus.

Once a virus is in your body, it is down to your immune system to kill it off. Hot baths and hot drinks won’t be able to reach or kill the virus because it lies within cells inside your body. Your body regulates its temperature very carefully and won’t allow it to raise much, despite hot drinks and baths. The best way to kill the virus, if you may have come into contact with it on your skin, is by washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.

Myth 5 - You can prevent the virus spreading by gargling bleach.

Gargling bleach can cause irritation of your mouth and food pipe, sometimes even leading to internal burns. There’s also no evidence that regularly gargling with anything (whether it be bleach, hot drinks or water) will prevent you from being infected by the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Disinfecting surfaces with bleach can be helpful to stop the spread of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19.1

Myth 6 - Eating garlic will help prevent you from catching the virus that causes COVID-19.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet with fruit and vegetables, including garlic, is always a good idea. But there is no evidence that eating lots of garlic is going to prevent you from getting COVID-19.