Graphic by Jen Kelly

A Brief Breakdown of COVID-19 Misconceptions

Four things you or your relatives might misunderstand about COVID-19
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Four things you or your relatives might misunderstand about COVID-19

Misconception: The fatality rate of COVID-19 is only 2-3%. That sounds low, so it isn’t worth worrying about.

Reality: Any fatality rate estimate can be misleading. It’s possible that many more people contract COVID-19 than receive a test. Numbers from the World Health Organization put the fatality rate of confirmed cases globally at around 6%, but those numbers are only based on people who have been tested or had severe symptoms. That number can also be misleading because the fatality rate varies by region, age group and other risk factors.

Though the actual fatality rate is unknown, it is much higher than past pandemics such as H1N1 (swine flu). Even if it was low, a small percentage of the total global population is still a staggering amount of people.

Misconception: I don’t have symptoms like fever, cough or difficulty breathing, so I must not have it and I can’t spread it.

Reality: In South Korea, COVID-19 testing was widespread and early testing results showed that many people in their 20s and 30s had the virus, but were completely unaware that they could be spreading it. Since it’s possible that many more people have COVID-19 than get a test, people who feel healthy and demonstrate no symptoms could spread it.

Misconception: If I wear a mask, I don’t have to practice social distancing.

Reality: Simple masks for people without symptoms and people not in high-risk groups are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more to protect others from you while in public. Since many cases are asymptomatic, it may help prevent people unaware of their own infection from spreading it. Masks are an additional measure, not a replacement measure. The CDC recommend social distancing along with a mask.

Misconception: There is a cure for COVID-19.

Reality: As of April 2020, there is no specific medicine or cure for COVID-19. Antibiotics are not effective against the viral illness, and there is no evidence of any effective home remedy. There are ongoing trials and possible vaccines being considered, so that may change soon.

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