Covid-19 myths and facts

Covid-19 myths and facts

The truth about how you can catch coronavirus, who is
most vulnerable and what you can do to protect


1. Can a face mask protect me from Covid-19?
Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you will not get infected by
coronavirus– there is circumstantial evidence that viruses can also transmit through the eyes
and through a fine mist known as aerosols which can penetrate masks. However, masks are
effective at capturing droplets, which is a main route of transmission of coronavirus and some
studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone.
If you’re likely to be in contact with someone infected, a mask cuts off the possibility of the
infection being passed on. If you’re showing symptoms of Covid-19, or have been diagnosed,
or caring for someone who has been tested positive, wearing a mask can protect yourself and
Masks are also crucial for health and social care workers and with the global demand for
masks-governments, hospital chain, clinics and entrepreneurs are facing a huge shortage in
masks- paying almost five times the price for N95 masks.
That said, masks will probably make very little difference if you’re just walking around town
so there is no need to bulk-buy a huge supply.

2. How deadly, exactly, is Covid-19?
The numbers are in flux, but Covid-19 appear worse than seasonal flu.
The death rate from Covid-19 varies by location, age of the person infected and the presence
of underlying health conditions.
While most people who catch coronavirus can recover at home, some may need
hospitalization to fight the virus, and in a number of patients it is found deadly.
Scientists cannot yet say for sure what the fatality rate of the corona virus is, because they are
not certain how many people have become infected with the disease. It does seem clear that
older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions are facing the most risk for
dying of Covid-19. But we need more knowledge on other subgroups so we can better protect
Another factor that complicates the deadliness of the novel coronavirus is the quality of
medical care. There is evidence that the overwhelmed medical system in Wuhan, where the
outbreak began, led to more deaths. If the medical system is prepared to face an influx of
Covid-19 patients, fewer people are likely to die.

3. ‘It only kills the elderly, so younger people can relax’
Although, Covid-19 has been much deadlier in older people and for those who have existing
chronic medical conditions, more anecdotes are now popping up of young healthy people
getting critically ill. In US, around 40% of patients that required hospitalization were between
the ages of 20 and 54, according to a new report by the Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC).
Although, young healthy people have a lesser chance from being critically ill from Covid-19,
the infection has also been found to have a higher chance of leading to serious respiratory
symptoms than the seasonal flu and there are other at- risk groups- health workers, for
instance, who are more vulnerable because they are likely to have higher exposure to the
The actions that young, healthy people take, including reporting symptoms and following
quarantine instructions, will have an important role in protecting the most vulnerable in the
society and shaping the overall trajectory of the outbreak.

4. ‘A vaccine could be ready within a few months’
The race to develop a vaccine has prompted what researchers say is an ‘unprecedented global
scientific collaboration’ as nearly all other scientific research has ground to a halt.
The virus has ignited the scientific community in ways that no outbreak or medical mystery
has ever before.
The development of a viable vaccine continues apace, with several teams all over the world
now testing candidates in animal experiments. However, the incremental trials required
before a commercial vaccine could be available in the market is still a lengthy undertaking-
and an essential one to ensure that even rare side-effects are spotted.
A commercially available vaccine proven to be safe and effective in humans will take at least
about a third of the way to what’s needed for a global immunisation programme according to
global health expert Jonathan Quick of Duke University in North Carolina, author of The End
of Epidemics (2018)

5. When will the pandemic end? And how? Will it
become endemic?
The response to the Covid-19 pandemic is infiltrating every aspect of life, and we are already
longing for it to end. But this fight may not end for many months or a year or even more. It
also possible that Covid-19 can become endemic, meaning a disease that regularly infects
humans and never really goes away.

But there are also many unknowns that will determine how long we have to live with this:
 Could existing drugs be repurposed to treat or slow Covid-19? (Anti-malarials
including chloroquinone and its derivatives hydroxychloroquinone and many
other drugs are being tested to see if they might have some effect on the
virus’s replication or transmission which in turn could delay Covid-19.
 Will one of the many vaccine formulations that are being developed now amid
the worsening pandemic prove be safe and effective, despite the time it might
take to develop a vaccine (scientists predict at least 12-18 months)?
 If no drug works to treat the virus or stop its spread, we may need to live with
strict social distancing for many months, if not a year or more, to prevent
hundreds of thousands from dying. Will governments support that level of
sustained disruption to the economy? Or could we find an alternative, like
aggressive testing coupled with relentless contact tracing, quarantines of those
exposed, and isolation of the sick?

As we learn more about Covid-19, our approach to fighting it will become more precise. We
may be able to find a balance between protecting the vulnerable and letting our economy and
society function again. But for now, we have to confront the possibility that this virus will
disrupt life for a long while.