Scientists across the globe are racing against the clock to find either a therapeutic cure or a vaccine to the deadly coronavirus that has so far infected over 1.2 million people worldwide and claimed lives of ~70,000 in more than 180 countries. At the time when these researchers and investigators are grasping at straws for treatment options, an array of misinformation concerning COVID-19 is disseminating via social media and other channels of communication around the globe.
With a lack of evidence, these pieces of misinformation are complicating efforts to win control over the coronavirus pandemic. This is due to the fact that individuals endorsing conspiracy theories are less likely to have a positive attitude towards preventive measures.
In this context, let us demystify eight myths and conspiracy theories circulating worldwide in relation to COVID-19:
Is COVID-19 a Chinese Bioweapon?
The conspiracy surrounding the novel coronavirus being a Chinese bioweapon is doing rounds on the internet over the last few months. This conspiracy theory suggests that China has developed this biological weapon to kill mass populations. Recently, a USD 20 trillion lawsuit has also been filed in the US against the Chinese authorities, alleging the release of a novel coronavirus from the Wuhan Virology Institute.
However, a recent research paper has put an end to this theory, stating that it does not have any scientific ground. The research paper titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” clearly specified that COVID-19 is not a manipulated virus, or a laboratory created virus.
Does 5G Technology Transmit COVID-19?
Another conspiracy theory that spread like bushfire on the Internet was the 5G technology rolled out by China in late October 2019 being responsible for COVID-19 pandemic.
The post related to this claim has been shared on different social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. This conspiracy stuff linked the 5G technology with the human immune system, with the claim that the technology suppresses the immune system, making humans more susceptible to get infected.
However, experts and scientists have dismissed this claim, calling it biologically impossible and complete rubbish. According to them, though very powerful radio waves can disrupt the immune system with excess heat, the 5G radio waves are not strong enough to impact the immune system.
Will Summer Help Beat Coronavirus?
As most of the coronavirus cases have been reported in areas with temperature below 180 Celsius, people are speculating that the disease will eventually slow down when summer gets going.
However, experts advise not to bank on this claim as there is no data to support it. The experts suggest that pandemics don’t often follow the similar seasonal patterns as normal outbreaks.
Moreover, the WHO has also dismissed this claim stating the virus has so far transmitted in all areas, including areas experiencing hot and humid climates.
Is the US Army Responsible for Coronavirus Outbreak?
At the time when other countries targeted China over the spread of coronavirus pandemic, China fuelled a conspiracy theory stating the US Army brought the virus to Wuhan. In fact, Iran’s supreme leader endorsed this claim, alleging coronavirus a development of the US government.
Earlier in March 2020, a Chinese official gave a boost to this conspiracy theory, tweeting the US military force that attended 7th Military World Games in October 2019 in Wuhan brought the virus with them.
However, there's not a single credible epidemiologist across the globe who has exhibited evidence that the virus originated at any other place except China.
Was COVID-19 Predicted in a Chinese Novel?
Another theory that has been widely circulating on social media is that a 1981 Chinese novel “The Eyes of Darkness”anticipated the occurrence of the coronavirus outbreak. Several posts featuring the cover of a Chinese book and a page disseminated in the last few months, mentioning the emergence of Wuhan-400 virus over time asthe China’s biological weapon.
However, experts ruled out this claim stating that the symptoms highlighted in the novel of Wuhan-400 are different from the existing COVID-19. The novel mentioned that Wuhan-400 will have a mortality rate of 100 per cent and an incubation period of four hours. Nevertheless, the coronavirus’ existing mortality rate is significantly low, and its incubation period is between one to fourteen days.
Besides these key differences, there are multiple other symptoms and effects of predicted Wuhan-400, which make the claim of coronavirus outbreak’s early prediction false.
Can Mosquitoes Spread COVID-19?
As mosquitoes are believed to carry different types of viruses, rumours and misinformation surrounding the spread of coronavirus by mosquito bite has become prevalent on social media.
However, experts have made it clear that there is no evidence available so far to justify novel coronavirus can be transmitted via mosquitoes.
Highlighting it as the respiratory virus, the WHO has also denied this claim, stating it spreads mainly via droplets produced by an infected person while sneezing or coughing, or via discharge from the nose or droplets of saliva.
Can Face Masks Protect Against COVID-19?
Since the timethe coronavirus outbreak began to take a toll on countries across the globe, panic buying of face masks and other medical supplies resulted in the shortage of essential medical products for health workers. The WHO also raised the issue early in March 2020, advising people to stop buying face masks.
The panic buying of face masks occurred on the belief that it prevents from getting infected with COVID-19, contributing to the misuse and shortage of the product worldwide. However, experts have made it clear that the face mask certainly does not guarantee the protection against coronavirus. This is because the virus can still enter via eyes ortiny viral particlesthat can penetrate masks.
Is the Vaccine to Cure Coronavirus Available?
Another significant misinformation spreading across the world is that the vaccine to cure COVID-19 is available, which is certainly not the case at the moment. In fact, although the development of a vaccine is going in full swing in different countries, it is not likely to be out very soon.
The launch of the coronavirus vaccine is expected to take months or at least a year’s time after successful clinical trials. Joining the global race to prevent COVID-19, Australia’s national science agency has also recently kick started the 1st stage of testing potential vaccines for coronavirus.
In a nutshell, the unrestricted social media platforms have triggered a broad spectrum of the people across the world accepting and practicing measures which are not really accommodating in dodging the coronavirus threat.Hence, it becomes imperative for each individual to learn the facts via authentic sources like WHO before believing any information blindfolded.
Also Read Five Key things from COVID-19 Guidelines
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