Common Myths About The New Coronavirus

The recent outbreak of the new coronavirus has sparked a lot of fear, concern, as well as many rumors and conspiracy theories. While the internet can be a great tool for sharing information, it can also be used to spread and fuel rumors.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that sparked alarm after it began spreading in Wuhan, China, and while it’s thought to have originated at a market with live animals, WebMD says scientists and officials are still not 100-percent sure. This is only one of many, many rumors.

To ensure you’re informed with the most recent and factual information, we’ve compiled a list of the most common myths about the new coronavirus and what the truth is behind them. Let’s take a look…

1. No, It’s Not Related to Corona Beer

That’s right. Some people believe that Corona beer is somehow linked to the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus. While it sounds a little far fetched, there has been a spike in searches on Google for “coronavirus beer.”

Healthline talked to Dr. Gregory Poland, a virus expert and head of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic who said “the term ‘corona’ simply means crown.” Dr. Poland explains that it was given this name because “when you look at the virus through an electron microscope, it has these projections called S-spikes that look kind of crown-like.” It has nothing to do with the beer.

Goran Jakus /

2. Your Pet Doesn’t Need a Mask

You might have noticed some people in major cities are putting masks on their dogs in fear that their pet may pick up the new coronavirus. The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that animals, such as dogs and cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.

That being said, it’s always a good idea to practice safe personal hygiene which means washing your hands with soap and water after any contact with pets. This will help protect against any common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can be easily passed between humans and pets.

3. Catching The Virus Off Mail Packages

Since the virus originated in China, many people are concerned about their mail packages because a lot of the products we order online, ship from China. As a result, there is a rumor swirling around that the virus may be able to travel from China into our home and that it may not be safe to open these packages.

The truth is, it’s totally safe to open packages from China. According to WHO, there is no risk of contracting the new coronavirus through mail. “From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages,” writes the source.

4. You Don’t Need to Avoid Chinese People

It has been widely reported that the outbreak began in Wuhan, China after officials reported a number of cases of a viral pneumonia to WHO. As of Feb. 6th, 2020, the virus has spread to a number of different countries around the world with 28,060 cases confirmed in China and 564 deaths. Outside of China, there are 225 cases in 24 different countries and one confirmed death.

Due to the spread of misinformation and stereotyping, there have been many cases of xenophobic reactions in countries around the world. According to TIME magazine, people on social media have detailed experiences where others have avoided them in public spaces or even confronted them about the coronavirus.

WebMD writes that this rumor is a result of racism and likely originated in Australia where someone created a false report from the country’s Bureau of Diseasology (which doesn’t even exist) that stated the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid Chinese people. Not true whatsoever.


5. The Virus Wasn’t Created as a Weapon

This conspiracy theory has shown up on social media and sites like Reddit. People have begun to spread the rumor that the new coronavirus was created by the Chinese as a weapon and the outbreak occurred because they lost control of it.

“Not only is there no proof of this, if someone wanted to weaponize a virus, they would probably pick one with a higher fatality rate,” says Steven Taylor, PhD, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Canada when speaking to WebMD.

6. Bill Gates is Responsible

This rumor likely started because of his 2019 Netflix documentary called “Inside Bill’s Brain,” particularly the episode titled “The Next Pandemic” where he warned viewers about the dangers of another pandemic.

The reality is that Gates has spent millions of dollars in China and African countries to actually prevent against outbreaks such as the coronavirus. He’s helped fund many vaccine and drug programs, says WebMD.

JStone /

7. Drinking Miracle Mineral Solution

According to Healthline, there is a rumor spreading on social media about a Miracle Mineral Solution that is said to be a remedy for illnesses and conditions for everything from autism to HIV. This theory has been debunked and dismissed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Now people are saying it can kill the coronavirus which is also not true. “Drinking a strange beverage will not prevent you from acquiring the infection,” said Dr. Andres Romero, infectious disease specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif to Healthline.

In fact, the source notes that the beverage is actually harmful when ingested because it contains sodium chlorite which turns to bleach when it’s mixed with citric acid, as per the instructions.

8. Antibiotics Can Treat and Prevent the Virus

Antibiotics will not work to treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics are only successful against bacteria, whereas 2019-nCoV is a virus. Therefore, WHO says antibiotics should not be used as a means to treat or prevent the new coronavirus. The source does not that anyone hospitalized for 2019-nCoV may receive antibiotics “because bacterial co-infection is possible.”

WHO also notes that the pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine do not provide protecting against the new coronavirus. This virus is totally new which means scientists haven’t had time to develop a vaccine against it. Researchers are doing their best to develop a vaccine against the 2019-nCoV.

WHO still recommends people get any vaccines for respiratory illnesses in order to protect their health.

9. It Only Affects Old and Young People

The only truth to this rumor is that older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease) can be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with this virus. The is the same for other illnesses like the flu. Other than that, 2019-nCoV can and has affected people of all ages.

Since the new coronavirus is a threat to people of all ages, WHO recommends everyone takes the appropriate steps to protect themselves which means following good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.

10. Sesame Oil Can Block the Coronavirus

Another seemingly strange rumor is that sesame oil can kill the new coronavirus, but this is not true. “There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces,” writes WHO. “These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75-percent ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform.”

However, it’s important to note that these disinfectants will have little to no effect if they are applied to the skin or under the nose. In fact, it can be dangerous to do so, so WHO advises against it.

11. Eating Garlic Can Prevent Infection of Coronavirus

While garlic is considered a healthy food with some healthy benefits, it does not protect or prevent against the new coronavirus. WHO states on their website that there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that eating garlic has protected people against the outbreak.

12. Gargling Mouthwash Can Protect From Infection

Similar to the rumor about garlic, there is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect people from the new coronavirus.

There are certain brands that can “eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth,” but this doesn’t mean they’ll provide any protection from 2019-nCoV infection, says WHO.

13. Rinsing Nose with Saline Can Prevent Infection

We’re not sure where this rumor started, but WHO assures people that there is no evidence that rinsing the nose regularly with saline will protect people from the new coronavirus.

However, the source does not that there is some evidence that rinsing the nose with saline can aid in the recovery process from a common cold. But again, it’s not proven to work for respiratory infections, such as the new coronavirus.