The Biggest Coronavirus Myths, Busted

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We’re living in uncertain, surreal times, as the coronavirus crisis worsens in the United States. As we’re struggling with a vacuum of reliable information, coronavirus myths are spreading as quickly as the disease, amplified by social media. Luckily, we’ve got Dr. Seema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative at Stanford University. In the video above, she debunks common—and even dangerous—myths about the coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.

You can’t, for instance, diagnose yourself with Covid-19 by holding your breath for 10 seconds to see if you cough. Coronavirus does affect the lungs, and indeed this is one way it kills patients. But simply holding your breath can’t tell you if the virus is affecting your lungs. “Of course, the only true way of knowing if you have Covid-19 is to get a test for the disease,” Yasmin says.

When it comes to prevention, drinking garlic tea will only make you smell bad, not stave off the coronavirus. And if you do contract Covid-19, you can’t flush it out of your mouth with hot water. And certainly don’t—and we can’t stress this enough—try to blast it out of your mouth with a blow dryer.

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“I think it’s really easy to look back on those myths and say, ‘I would never fall for that,’” says Yasmin. “But in the face of so much fear and uncertainty, even the smartest people can fall for false information.”

And there are ways to inoculate yourself against such myths, Yasmin says. If you’re seeing sensationalized information that’s trying to stoke emotion, that’s a good indication it might be just an internet rumor. Always try to trace information back to the original source, something reputable like the World Health Organization or the CDC. And, of course, WIRED.


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