Here are a few of the rumours circulating on social media about COVID-19, as reported in the French news magazine le Point and other sources. All are false.
1. The COVID-19 virus was created in a US laboratory. This rumour comes from a faulty reading of a US patent granted in 2003. The patent was granted to the researchers who were the first to isolate and identify the SARS virus, the cause of an earlier panic in 2003. This bit of fake news is a gift to the Chinese government’s propaganda machine which has launched a campaign to deny that COVID-19 originated in China.
2. Scientists have discovered that cocaine kills the corona virus. Not true; cocaine might kill the person who takes it, but has no effect on the virus.
3. Drinking lots of water will protect you from COVID-19. Good hydration is necessary for good health, but it has no antiviral properties.
4. The virus will disappear with the heat of summer. Nobody knows for sure what summer will do. In any case, it’s not heat that hinders the spread of the virus, but the increased humidity in the air. Some experts speculate the virus may lie low in summer, then return in fall.
5. The active ingredient in hand sanitizers is carcinogenic. False, these products are non-toxic and non-carcinogenic and may be used without fear.
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What we do know is that it is spreading rapidly and, at least here in the USA, the actual cases are way under-reported because of a lack of testing kits and the reagents needed to develop the tests. As for the summer, there’s also the possibility of declining cases followed by a resurgence of a stronger strand in the fall, as happened with the Spanish flu.