COVID-19 myths, busted

This article was last reviewed on July 27, 2021.

There’s one thing on everyone’s mind at the moment: the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Unfortunately, this also means that there are a lot of rumors and myths going around. We’ve created a list of commonly-shared myths, debunked and clarified by Babylon doctors.

Myth 1 - The coronavirus 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 is 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 COVID-19.

Although this is true for a few strains of viruses, like the norovirus (or “cruise ship virus”) that causes diarrhea, that’s not the case with the novel coronavirus. Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will kill the virus that causes COVID-19. Use the hand sanitizer properly by following the CDC’s recommendations2.

Myth 3 - Pets can transmit the virus too.

There have been reports of a small number of pets that have been infected with COVID-19, usually after close contact with people with COVID-19. There is limited information and at this time, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered low. It is best not to let pets interact with people outside your household and if a family member is in isolation, they should isolate from pets as well.3

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 up to your immune system to kill it off. Hot baths and hot drinks cannot reach or kill the virus — it lives inside cells in your body. Your body regulates its temperature very carefully and won’t allow it to raise much in response to outside stimulus. The best way to kill the virus if you may have come into contact with it on your skin is to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, both in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines.

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 is also no evidence that regularly gargling with anything (whether it be bleach, hot drinks, or plain water) will prevent you from being infected by the virus that causes 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. Follow the directions on the bleach packaging to ensure you’re using it safely.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 garlic will prevent you from getting COVID-19.

Myth 7 - Wearing a mask will deprive the body of oxygen.

The prolonged use of medical masks when worn properly does not deprive the wearer of oxygen. Make sure while wearing a mask, it is fitted properly and that it allows you to breathe normally.4