Scientists continue to say they know very little about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and has turned the world upside-down over the past few weeks.
But the virus has been around long enough for myths to arise about all aspects of it — how it’s spread, what kills it, what home remedies people can use to fight it and where it came from.
Some myths have been dispelled and others remain somewhere in the territory of could-be-true-but-we-don’t-really-know.
Here are a few:
A French health minister tweeted sometime last week, suggesting that people with coronavirus symptoms should not use ibuprofen products because it could worsen the effects of the virus.
A non-peer-reviewed, not clinically tested study then appeared in the medical journal Lancet in which it was again suggested that instead of ibuprofen products such as Advil, people who think they might have the virus should take acetaminophen or paracetamol instead.
The World Health Organization has weighed in on this to say that, as yet, there is no data that suggests taking ibuprofen is bad for someone who may be infected with COVID-19.
However, sore throat and fever are symptoms of infection that can be relieved by either agent. Drinking a lot of water helps as well.
And so does gargling with warm salt water, which brings us to another myth passed around on the internet.
A meme of a blue man, his head tilted back with starry spots on his throat, suggested gargling with warm salt water might kill the virus and keep it from descending into the lungs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention busted this one.
Gargling with warm salt water will soothe a sore throat, but there’s no evidence that it will kill the virus or stop it from getting into the lungs. The time-honored practice does reduce inflammation, however, and thus is good for a sore throat.
NUKING THE PAPER?
Many coronavirus myths revolve around heat.
One is that a microwave oven can kill the virus on surfaces such as paper. That one came to The Daily News from a reader.
An investigation into the question showed mixed results. The reader cautioned against microwaving paper any longer than 10 seconds because it could burn up, a problem that has apparently cropped up around the world in places such as Korea where it has been reported that people trying to sterilize their cash in the microwave caused it to begin disintegrating.
Whether high temperatures the microwave can generate will kill the virus remains non-definitive, say scientists at the World Health Organization, though tests conducted previously have shown that other viruses, such as HIV and avian coronavirus, died after being microwaved anywhere from five seconds to two minutes.
SUN AND SWEAT
Coronavirus is not transferred through airborne sweat, as has been rumored, but gym equipment can harbor the virus for up to 48 hours if it’s not disinfected after exposure, according to the CDC. That’s why gyms are shut down — not because people might exchange sweat.
Sunshine is good for health in general, but scientists haven’t yet thoroughly studied the effect of ultraviolet rays on COVID-19. Viruses have been known to be killed by light from ultraviolet lamps in a lab, but using one to try and eliminate coronavirus from skin and hair at home is not advised by most scientists because it’s bad for skin cells.