Debunking COVID-19 myths

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    WITH novelty comes misinterpretation, misinformation, and myths rapidly disseminated via social media around the globe. This is what is happening with the novel corona virus, SARS-CoV2 virus, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 3 million and killed more than 230,000 in 210 countries around the world; more than a million in the USA, with about 60,000 deaths; and, almost 8,000 cases and nearly 550 deaths in the Philippines. From the emails we received from our readers, here are some of them. Accurate information is a must for survival, especially during a pandemic.

    Viruses are alive

    Viruses are not living microbes, unlike bacteria which are alive. Viruses are protein molecules surrounded by a protective layer of lipid (fats), which enable them to merge with cells and be transmissible and infective. When the protective envelope around them is damaged, they are unable to cause infection, and subsequently destroyed. Viruses need a host, like humans, in the case of SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID-19 infection), and animals in other viruses.

    Novel coronavirus in Wuhan was from bats

    False. It had been officially ruled out that the nCorona virus (SARS-CoV2) did not originate from bats or snakes sold in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, but possibly from a biolab working on viruses located a few kilometers away. The circumstances surrounding the Wuhan outbreak, which is now a pandemic victimizing 210 countries around the world, is being investigated. In the meantime, lawsuits have been filed in 7 States, and also in the UK, against China seeking damages for injuries, deaths, and economic losses caused by COVID-19, courtesy of the recklessness, deceit, duplicity, and irresponsibility of the Communist Party in Wuhan. Other States and countries are expected to follow suit.

    Feeling well means no COVID-19

    Wrong. Unless one has tested negative for COVID-19, anyone, especially those who go out in public without caps, protective goggles, masks, gloves, without distancing, are a possible carriers of the virus, because it takes about two weeks for symptoms to appear, in a few cases up to 19 days. So, feeling well alone is not a guarantee, unless one has self-quarantined for at least 2-3 weeks and still has not fallen ill. Therefore, a person exposed, should be considered infected, an ignorant carrier, and thus potentially a geometric/exponential spreader of the virus, unknowingly.

    Bacterial soap is better

    False. Bacterial soap is not better than regular foamy soap and water for washings hands and as disinfectants, which has been proven to destroy SARS-CoV2 virus, the cause of the current pandemic. The soap suds dissolve the fatty protective “capsule” enveloping the protein molecule we call virus, which leads to deactivation, inability to replicate, and final destruction of the virus. Bacterial soap may be used, but not superior.

    Hand sanitizers are effective

    Most hand sanitizers contain less than 70 percent alcohol and do not destroy SARS-CoV2 effectively. If soap and water or peroxide or bleach solution are not available, any hand sanitizer must be used, followed by handwashing with soap and water soonest thereafter. Drying hands very well is vital. The use of moisturizers (with simethicone) helps protect the skin further against SARS-CoV2 virus and also for skin health and comfort.

    SARS-CoV2 viruses are hard to destroy

    Medical fact:  This current killer virus is very easy to damage and rendered inactive. Simple frequent handwashing with soap and water destroys the entire virus within 20 seconds. This pandemic would not have been so massive if people were more disciplined, selfless, and responsible.

    Masks only protect others

    While masks (even the N95 primarily for healthcare providers) protect others if worn by someone who is infected and a carrier of the virus or who is sick by lessening transmission, it also protects the healthy wearer. Imagine ten people, half wearing masks and the others without, being sprayed with dust or flour or red powder. Those wearing a mask would obviously have much less powder on their faces compared to those not wearing one, whose faces would be full of the powder. It is a medical fact that even the N95 mask is not 100% protective or preventive, but both versions of the masks minimize the spread both ways, albeit perhaps not totally equal in extent. Together with frequent handwashing, using a cap, gloves, social distancing (staying home if possible), the use of a mask when going out (properly, tight-fitting, covering the nose and the mouth) and not touching it, even with the gloved hands, are protective, second to self-quarantine with non-infected people at home.

     Staying home is 100% safe

    The home is like a gated, screened, protective fort in a jungle with countless man-eating animals roaming around, hungry, looking for a prey, or a dungeon during a war, where bullets and bombs are bursting in the air. This analogy magnifies how vital the home is during this COVID-19 pandemic that kills people of any age, even children, but especially the elderly. But the home is the only place totally safe if  everyone strictly follows the guidelines with wisdom,  discipline, and with a bit of what I termed healthy paranoia (medical vigilance). The home is the safest place to be during an outbreak, an epidemic or a pandemic. But if anyone at home violates any of those preventive measures, then that individual could get infected and spread it to everyone at home, like a massive fire inside a cage.

    We are reposting this acronym, Fight COVID-19 with C-O-V-I-D:  Cover face to scratch, sneeze or cough; Omit non-essential travels; Voluntary quarantine; Intensive handwashing; Distancing is now social.

    The effectiveness of this C-O-V-I-D strategy in minimizing the spread of the virus has been proven around the world, starting from China, South Korea, the Philippines, USA, even in Italy, where the curve has started to flatten.

    Tea tree oil is effective against SARS-CoV2 virus

    While tea tree oil is reportedly used for herpes simplex virus, it is not effective against this virus that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Other items advertised as useful against this virus, which is totally a scam, include herbs of various kinds, coconut oil and all other oils, pomegranates and other fruits and vegetables, Noni, SuperBeets, turmeric, curcumin, curry, garlic, peppers, steroids, anesthetic agents, etc. There is no food, drug, potion or lotion that has been proven to prevent or cure COVID-19. None so far, not even vaccines, which are being developed and still a couple of years away.

    While fruits and vegetables and supplements, like vitamins D3, C, B-complex, zinc, etc. are helping boost the immune system, none of them could prevent or cure COVID-19. Various drugs, including anti-malarial, anti-lupus drug hydroxychloroquine, developed after WWII (less toxic derivate of chloroquine, discovered in 1934) are being clinically tested, in combination (a trio) with antibiotic Azithromycin and Zinc.

    Vinegar is a COVID-19 disinfectant

    While 5% kitchen vinegar (acetic acid) can destroy some bacteria and some viruses on surfaces, there is no evidence it destroys SARS-CoV2 virus. Vinegar is also damaging when used to clean electric iron, electronic screens, countertops, floorings, dishwashers, and other appliances.

    Peroxide is useless for COVID-19

    Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a popular household item that was discovered in 1818 originally used to bleach hats, deactivates rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, which are actually harder to destroy than SARS-CoV2 that causes the COVID-19. According to CDC, hydrogen peroxide is an effective disinfectant against coronaviruses, like the SARS-CoV2, which is fragile, albeit more virulent.

    Peroxide had been used effectively to disinfect masks, gloves, etc. for re-use when the supply of PPE is low, and useful at home to disinfect (3% undiluted spray) various surfaces, leaving it on for one minute against bacteria and the COVID-19 virus and 6-8 minutes for rhinoviruses. Peroxide 3% or diluted with water may be used for gurgling, but not to be swallowed or its vapor inhaled because it is toxic to the stomach and to the lungs.

    Stay-home policy is a civil rights violation

    The government, during war or an epidemic or pandemic, has the constitutional right, obligation, and power to issue, declare, mandate any policy or measure during a national (international) emergency to protect its citizens. Societal/community rights supersede and outweigh individual civil liberties when personal behavior or action of individuals jeopardizes others.

    Those who do not follow the national guidelines to minimize the spread of killer SARS-CoV2, and are even now staging protests in various cities, have the right to expose themselves to the virus and get infected, or even kill themselves, but they do not have the right to infect and kill others. Their twisted thinking and selfishness, a major factor why COVID-19 has spread so much and infected and killed so many, would also prolong this deadly pandemic.

    Let’s safeguard the civil rights of the people who are following the medical guidelines and sacrificing to protect themselves, their loved ones, and society as a whole.

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    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a cardiac surgeon emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a health Advocate, and chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com  and  FUN8888.com   Email: [email protected]

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