5 Myths about COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2 has turned our world upside down. As a novel coronavirus, information on the virus is constantly changing and evolving. As such, many myths continue to arise creating an arena of misinformation. This special edition in our blog is dedicated to unravelling the 5 most common myths we have been hearing at Tutor4U. This is a feature article by our science expert, Mark Ehiogae.
1) The vaccine will be rushed making it dangerous
The purpose of a vaccine is to help a population reach herd immunity. Accord to the Mayo Clinic, herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune. Herd immunity makes it possible to protect those who can’t be vaccinated, such as newborns or those who have compromised immune systems.
There are two paths to herd immunity for COVID-19— vaccines and natural infection. Experts estimate 70% of the population would need to contract COVID-19 and recover or be vaccinated for immunity to be attained. The former poses an unnecessary risk as many lives would be lost. As a country that chose not to lockdown during the pandemic in an attempt to reach heard immunity, Sweden is paying the price as it currently reports a higher death rate than neighboring countries. In addition, long term immunity from a natural infection is currently unclear. The latter, a vaccine, presents as a safe solution to attaining long term immunity.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, to be approved, vaccines in North America must successfully pass clinical development which is a three-phase process examining a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded, and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.
If a vaccine cannot clear these three phases, it will not be offered to the public. Therefore, when the vaccine does becomes available, have no reservation about getting it, as it will be the best way for all of us to get back to normal.
2) Kids are not affected by COVID-19
Let us be very clear on this point – All age groups can contract COVID-19 The area of some uncertainty, at this point, is whether children can spread COVID-19 and if the virus affects children in the same manner as it does adults. Preliminary evidence suggests that children are just as likely to contract COVID-19 but their symptoms tend to be less severe. However, the WHO has recently released information about an inflammatory condition, affecting children and adolescents, that may have links with COVID-19. The condition, called a multisystem inflammatory condition, has features similar to toxic shock syndrome. Nevertheless, current findings suggest this condition is rare.
On a positive note, in a review conducted by the NCCMT, children under age 10 appear not to spread the COVID-19 virus effectively. But, as age increases past age 10, children and adolescences begin to spread the virus just as effectively as adults.
3) Prolonged use of medical masks can be detrimental especially to those with Asthma
The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency when properly worn. Asthma Canada has explicitly states that the vast majority of people with asthma can wear a non-medical mask or face covering safely. In effect, everyone should be wearing a mask in public spaces.
While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp. Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
4) People under 30 do not suffer damaging effects after contracting COVID-19
As COVID-19 is a novel virus, we are learning new information about it every day. COVID-19 like other coronaviruses, can infect people of any age. Older adults and individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, or asthma, are more likely to become severely ill. However, we are now learning more about the possible long-term effects COVID-19 has on the heart of people who have recovered, including young people. COVID-19 is MORE than a lung disease. According to the heart and stroke foundation, COVID-19 can cause injury to the heart, even in patients without a history of heart disease. In a study out of Germany, 78% of recovered, previously healthy, patients showed structural changes to their heart and biomarkers signaling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack. Even if one overcomes the short-term effects of COVID-19, it is likely that there would be an increased susceptible to future diseases in the long term.
5) Extreme weather temperatures can kill the Coronavirus
Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill coronavirus or other diseases. Exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 25°C DOES NOT protect you from COVID-19. You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. Similarly, the sun’s rays will not disinfect your mask so if it is NOT recommended for you to leave your mask under your windshield as neither the sun’s rays nor the heat will disinfect the mask.
The most effective way to protect yourself against the SARS-CoV-2 is to always maintain social distancing or to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. Additionally, by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water we can slow the spread. Everyone can contract SARS-CoV-2 but the severity of COVID-19 can vary with age. However, new findings suggest some harmful long-term effects. When available, a vaccine will be key to reaching herd immunity and returning life back to normal as we know it.