Whenever the world faces a major challenge such that presented by the novel coronavirus, it’s not unusual for conspiracy theories and urban legends to arise around it. People crave meaning and control, turning to fake cures and dubious theories about the origin of the virus to provide it. Here are just some of the fabricated stories that have sprung up around SARS-CoV-2.
1: Coronavirus is caused or spread by 5G
5G is the fifth generation of wireless communication technologies, currently being rolled out across much of the developed world. Conspiracy theorists had already latched onto 5G as a target for pseudoscientific accusations, claiming that it killed wildlife, caused cancer, and created other unwanted effects. With the rise of the novel coronavirus, the same groups began to claim that 5G caused or spread the virus in some way. In fact, there is no evidence that 5G has any negative effects at all. As for causing COVID-19, there have been numerous cases in countries where 5G has yet to be introduced. This hasn’t stopped people from lashing out against the new technology, burning 5G masts, and causing significant damage.
2: Drinking water every 15 minutes prevents coronavirus infections
Often attributed to an unnamed Japanese researcher, this myth relies on the idea that the virus can somehow be washed out of the throat and into the stomach. Unfortunately, this is not an effective way to prevent infections. It’s good to drink plenty of fluids and to stay hydrated. There is no magical antiviral benefit to drinking water, however, and drinking too much water can cause a condition called water intoxication.
‘Miracle mineral solution’ is being touted as both a prevention and a cure for the TK coronavirus. MMS is highly toxic. It’s chlorine dioxide, a compound used as an industrial bleach. Proponents of MMS claim that it can cure everything from cancer to malaria and AIDS, even going so far as to force autistic children and adults to drink the diluted bleach as a ‘cure’ for their condition. No disease can be cured by MMS, and ingesting it can cause serious harm.
Garlic has a long-standing reputation as healthy food, with all kinds of positive benefits. While it’s good for you, garlic does not possess the ability to prevent or cure any viral infections. It can’t treat coronavirus, no matter how much you consume. In large doses, garlic can even be harmful. One woman needed medical treatment after eating two-and-a-half pounds (4.5 kg) of raw garlic, which left her with burns to her mouth and throat.
5: Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver in water. It has a long history of being used to treat various illnesses, including infections and ailments of the nose and throat. Colloidal silver has not been shown to treat any medical conditions. It also has a range of adverse side effects, including kidney disease and a condition called argyria, where silver particles are laid down under a person’s skin. Argyria is not dangerous, but it causes a permanent gray or blue tint to the skin.
6: Vodka hand sanitizer
With supplies of hand sanitizer depleted and even the smallest bottles being sold at exorbitant prices, people have turned to home-made substitutes. While some are reasonably effective, such as mixing emollients with 70 percent rubbing alcohol, others are likely to be useless against pathogens. Many call for common spirits such as vodka, which at around 40 percent alcohol is not strong enough to make a strong hand sanitizer. For reliable news and information on how to stop SARS-CoV-2 from spreading and how best to avoid contracting COVID-19, seek out reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. During outbreaks, maintain good hygienic practices such as regular hand-washing, and protect yourself and others through social distancing. A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle will do more to protect you from illness than quack cures and dangerous, untested remedies.
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