Busting the myths about coronavirus

CDS Mers

(CDC, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Laura Bello Rodríguez, a recent graduate in BSc Biomedical Sciences from the University of Barcelona. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Some alarming news are being heard lately concerning a new virus outbreak from China: the ‘Coronavirus’. It is one of the main topics on the media and the internet, but not all information we receive is true. A lot of myths are being spread. These false ideas are only causing fear and anxiousness on people, so the truth must be known in order to calm this unnecessary nervousness. However, before that, let’s put things into context.

This is not the first time that humans face a health threat coming from a Coronavirus family member: in 2003, the SARS-CoV caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and in 2012 the MERS-CoV provoked the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Now, a new coronavirus epidemic has been reported coming from Wuhan, China. The so called 2019-nCoV. Its transmission can be done between animals and humans, and from person to person. Infected people can present mild symptoms such as cough or fever. Severe expressions of the disease are also possible, such as pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. Since we previously did not know about this virus, no treatment nor vaccines are available.

So, what about the myths? It is said that the coronavirus can come in packages from China. However, the virus does not survive long on objects, so there is no need to worry about getting infected by this mean. It is completely safe to receive anything from China. It is also said that pets at home may spread the virus, but there is no evidence that this happens. This does not mean you do not have to wash your hands after contact with pets. It should always be done to prevent other potential infections, such as Salmonella.

And about older people, does the coronavirus only infect them? Although it is true that the elders are more vulnerable to develop the severe expression of the disease, people of all ages can be affected.

Another myth that must be busted is the believe that vaccines against pneumonia can protect you against the 2019-nCoV. This novel coronavirus needs its own vaccine, and any other is not useful. What about antibiotics? Should you use them to treat the infection? The answer is no. The coronavirus is a virus and antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

Is it true there is nothing you can do to prevent yourself from getting the virus? No, you can do several basic preventive practices recommended by the World Health Organisation. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and cook meat thoroughly. You should also avoid close contact with those who present symptoms of respiratory illness.

Research on the novel coronavirus is currently being done and new scientific articles are published almost every day. Vaccines and treatment are being developed and further information will be available soon. In the meantime, we must be critical about what we read on the internet and beware of the potential myths we might find.

References:

  1. Hu D., Zhu C., Ai L., He T., Wang Y, Ye F., Yang L., Ding D., Zhu X., Lv R., Zhu J., Hassan B., Feng Y., Tan W. and Wang C. Genomic Characterization and Infectivity of a Novel SARS-like Coronavirus in Chinese Bats. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2018;7(1),154.
  2. Schoeman D., Fieldin BC. Coronavirus Envelope Protein: Current Knowledge. Virol J. 2019;16(1),69.
  3. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
  4. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
  5. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

About the author

Laura Bello Rodríguez is a recent graduate in BSc Biomedical Sciences from the University of Barcelona. She is currently an Erasmus+ postgraduate intern at ‘Cosciences’, a science communication agency based in Montpellier (France) where she communicates science through radio features, written articles and streaming sessions. Next year, she will study a Master’s degree in science communication in the United Kingdom, to start working in this essential field and continue directing her career towards science journalism.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

Industrial policy: recommendations to support Europe’s leadership in six strategic business areas

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

5 ways to break down the barriers for women to access leadership roles

A Sting Exclusive: “On the road to Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement”, by Ambassador Katakami of the Japanese Mission to the European Union

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

Victims of terrorism remembered

Banks cannot die but can be fined

The next generation is key for a European renaissance

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

A Monday to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy; will there be catharsis or more fear?

Syrian Constitutional Committee a ‘sign of hope’: UN envoy tells Security Council

Coronavirus: Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector

Norway is returning Easter Island artefacts to Chile (Will Britain ever return the marbles to Greece?)

MWC 2016 Live: Mobile ad industry still waiting for “revolution”

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

Sudan Prime Minister survives attempted assassination

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Why helping cross-border commuters is key to fighting COVID-19

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Emotional control and introspectivity in times of pandemic

Why economic growth depends on closing the interview gap

The Khashoggi affair: A global complot staged behind closed doors

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

EU-Turkey relations: EU considers imposing sanctions while Turkey keeps violating Cyprus’ sovereignty

What if Trump wins the November election and Renzi loses the December referendum?

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

Trump after marginalizing G20 attacks Europe and China where it hurts, brandishes currency war

EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

MEPs to prioritise environment and climate action in next long-term budget

In Libya, Guterres ‘deeply concerned’ by risk of fresh military confrontation, urges restraint

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

Poverty and social exclusion skyrocket with austerity

3 ways to use digital identity systems in global supply chains

EU leads the torn away South Sudan to a new bloody civil war

Gender parity can boost economic growth. Here’s how

Technology can help solve the climate crisis – but it will need our help

An open letter from business to world leaders: “Be ambitious, and together we can address climate change”

Cyclone Idai: UNICEF warns of ‘race against time’ to protect children, prevent spread of disease in flood-ravaged Mozambique

EU-US trade war? EU calls for logic while Trump’s administration is a loose cannon in a dangerous lose-lose situation for global prosperity

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

We spend half our time at work in meetings – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Is history a new NATO weapons against Russia?

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

The jobs forecast is unsettled. It’s time for a reskilling revolution

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

UPDATED: Thousands flee fighting around Libyan capital as Guterres condemns escalation, urges ‘immediate halt’ to all military operations

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s