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COVID-19 Mythbusting

You might have seen information on social media about cures and treatments for coronavirus. A lot of it is not true. Get the right information below.

1. Hot temperatures kill the virus

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

There’s no evidence that the virus dies in temperatures above 27 degrees or is prevented by drinking warm water. Learn more about the World Health Organisation's advice to the public. 

 

2. 5G networks are spreading the virus

Tweet describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Twitter post with an example of this false information.

5G mobile networks do not spread COVID-19.  The World Health Organisation has noted:

 “Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks."

“COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose." 

 

3. Vitamin C is an effective treatment

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) investigated this claim and “found there is no robust scientific evidence to support the usage of this vitamin in the management of COVID-19”.

Vitamin C deficiency is rare in Australia. The only well-established evidence for the use of Vitamin C is in the treatment of scurvy which is caused by Vitamin C deficiency. 

 

4. MMS (miracle mineral supplement) is an effective treatment

Twitter post describing misinformation about COVID-19

MMS contains sodium chlorite, which can be used to make chlorine dioxide, a chemical used as a textile bleaching agent and for disinfection. According to the TGA, “products containing… sodium chlorite pose a serious health risk if consumed by humans and should be labelled with warnings and the word ‘POISON’”.

MMS is not approved by the TGA for any therapeutic use and should not be taken to treat coronavirus.

Note that sodium chlorite is completely different to sodium chloride or common table salt. 

 

5. Ibuprofen exacerbates coronavirus

Article describing misinformation about COVID-19 An article with an example of this false information.

There is no published peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support this claim. If you are currently taking ibuprofen to manage a health condition, do not stop taking it without speaking to your doctor first.

The TGA will continue to monitor this issue. Learn more about the TGA's response. 

 

6. I don’t need to get the flu shot

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are two separate infections. While they’re both viral infections, the viruses belong to two separate groups. The regular influenza vaccination does not provide immunity to COVID-19. Learn more about how to protect yourself and others.

It is very important for people to get their influenza vaccination. As outlined by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, “we’re entering flu season and…one of the biggest messages we have…to the public is get your flu vaccination”. Some people become very sick with influenza. Having the influenza vaccination, will help prevent you getting infected with COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. Learn more about the DCMO'S response. 

 

7. Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment

Tweet describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Twitter post with an example of this false information.

Hydroxychloroquine is an unproven treatment. Clinical trials around the world are testing whether it can treat COVID-19. However, according to the TGA, “these medicines pose well-known serious risks to patients including cardiac toxicity (potentially leading to sudden heart attacks), irreversible eye damage and severe depletion of blood sugar (potentially leading to coma)”. Learn more about hydroxychloroquine. 

 

8. UV rays kill the virus

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

UV lamps should not be used to prevent coronavirus or used on hands or other areas of skin. UV radiation cannot sterilise; at best in ideal situations, it can inhibit growth of some microorganisms. Like sunbathing without sunscreen, UV lamps can cause skin irritation and you run the risk of long-term skin damage. Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response to this myth. 

 

9. Eating garlic/immune boosters prevents infection

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

According to WHO “Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from COVID-19".

Vaccines are the only effective means to boost your immune system to prevent infection. Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response. 

 

10. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you’re ok

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

Holding your breath for 10 seconds without coughing does not indicate you are free from coronavirus. If someone has an acute viral infection, it may be difficult for them to take a deep breath. However, being able to breathe deeply doesn’t mean someone is free of COVID-19. People’s symptoms vary and the only way to determine if you have the virus or not is to get tested. Learn more about symptoms to look out for. 

 

11. Gargling salt water will prevent coronavirus

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

Gargling salt-water does not prevent COVID-19. While gargling is a common treatment for a sore throat, there is no evidence to suggest that it would eliminate or prevent COVID-19. Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response to this myth.

 

12. Breathing techniques can cure the virus

Tweet describing misinformation about COVID-19 A twitter post with an example of this false information.

This breathing technique does not cure the virus. Controlled coughing helps with conditions such as cystic fibrosis to clear airways of mucus. It is relatively safe to perform as the mucus in cystic fibrosis usually can’t infect others. In the case of COVID-19, where people can infect others through airborne droplets, the opposite is true and this technique could help spread the infection. Learn more about the ABC's investigation into this myth.

 

13. BioCharger NG can help treat coronavirus

Article describing misinformation about COVID-19 An article with an example of this false information.

The BioCharger is not a cure or treatment for COVID-19. As stated by the manufacturer, Advanced Biotechnologies, “The BioCharger is not a medical device and for that reason Advanced Biotechnologies suggest that anyone seek medical attention from their primary care provider if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19”.

The TGA has issued the company with two infringement notices and published a warning to advertisers and consumers about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19. According to the TGA, the assertion "that the device could be used in relation to 'Wuhan Coronavirus'", is "a claim which has no apparent foundation, and which the TGA takes extremely seriously”. Learn more about TGA's response or ABC's report on this myth.

 

14. Microwaves sanitise masks

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

There is no evidence masks are sanitised by microwave radiation. It is also a bad idea. Firstly, microwave radiation can burn or disfigure certain parts of the mask. Secondly, if the mask contains metal, it can damage your microwave oven and set it alight.

Simply putting your mask through your washing machine with detergent is sufficient to disinfect it. Learn more about the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

 

15. There is a cure/ vaccine for coronavirus

Photo de-bunking misinformation about COVID-19 Photo sourced from the ABC

There is currently no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Scientists around the world, including those at the University of Queensland and the Doherty Institute, are working hard to find a vaccine with the World Health Organisation estimating a publicly available vaccine is 18 months away. In the meantime, the best thing people can do is to stay at home as much as possible. Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response to this myth.

 

16. Hand dryers kill coronavirus

Blog post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A blog post with an example of this false information.

No, hand dryers don’t kill the SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. Hand dryers blow out warm air and are not designed to disinfect materials from harmful organisms. To disinfect your hands, you should clean with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant. 

Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response to this myth.

 

17. Hospitals are giving out secret prevention tips

Tweet describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Twitter post with an example of this false information.

Hospitals are not disseminating secret prevention tips to staff. The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital have all publicly refuted several viral posts attributed to them. For accurate information, visit australia.gov.au.

 

18. Drinking water prevents infection

Blog post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A blog post with an example of this false information.

Drinking water does not wash the virus into the stomach. While hydration is important with an infection, sipping water will not prevent infection nor will it prevent infection from spreading.

 

19. Mosquitos spread coronavirus

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

There is no evidence to suggest mosquitoes carry and spread COVID-19. While mosquitoes can transmit other viruses like dengue and malaria, they don’t transmit other well-known viruses like HIV and Ebola. The novel coronavirus is primarily spread by droplets produced during coughing or sneezing rather than blood. The SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 has been found in blood samples from infected people, however there is no evidence it can spread via mosquitoes.

Learn more about the World Health Organisation's response to this myth.

 

20. Parcels from China can spread coronavirus

Facebook post describing misinformation about COVID-19 A Facebook post with an example of this false information.

There’s no evidence the virus can survive on packages or letters for 28 days. According to WHO:

“The most important thing to know about coronaviruses on surfaces is that they can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill the virus. Studies have shown that the SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard. These were under experimental conditions using sensitive detection methods".

“As always clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose”.

Visit the World Health Organisation for more information.

State and Territory Government information

Refer to your local state government for the latest responses to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.