Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 6

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak, Covid-19, is having a significant impact on people’s lives across the globe.

It has also led to an outbreak of false information being shared across social media, as people search for reliable and up-to-date information about the spread of the disease.

The NHS has advice for those who think they have coronavirus, how the disease spreads, and how to avoid it.

Ferret Fact Service has gone through a few of the more widely-shared claims made about the virus. This article will be updated with new claims as we see them.

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Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

Will Bill Gates get £31bn from the UK for a coronavirus vaccine?

A widely shared social media post suggested that Bill and Linda Gates’ foundation would be significant beneficiaries of the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

It claims that the foundation stands to earn more than £31 billion from a coronavirus vaccine given to every person in the UK, costing £477 each.

There is no evidence of this. The UK has agreed to buy 30 million vaccines in a deal with the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which has the licence for the potential Covid-19 vaccine that is being developed at Oxford University.

The cost of £477 per vaccine appears to come from a Daily Mail article on 17 March, which suggests a vaccine from US company Moderna could cost that much per dose. This estimated cost is attributed to “analysts”.

It then appears in an article on conspiracy site Before It’s News, which combines the cost of the vaccine and the £477 figure and comes to a figure of around £32bn.

A spokesperson for Moderna told Business Insider that: “There is no world, I think, where we would contemplate to price this higher than other respiratory-virus vaccines.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded research into Covid-19, but there is no evidence to suggest they would profit directly from any vaccine.

This claim is false

Is the UK Government meeting its testing targets?

The UK government announced on 2 April it would carry out 100,000 Covid-19 tests each day by the end of April. When the plan was announced, around 10,000 tests were being done per day.

The wording of the target varied in government announcements, with the UK Prime Minister Twitter account saying the target was to “test 100,000 people per day”.

It was then claimed that the target had been achieved on 30 April, when 122,347 tests were logged. However, only 73,191 people were tested on that day. The 122,347 includes 27,497 home tests sent out and 12,872 which were sent out to satellite testing sites.

As revealed by the Health Service Journal on 1 May and confirmed by Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, tests are counted at the point they are sent out to people or satellite centres, not when they are completed. This means the amount of tests carried out does not equate to the amount of people who have been tested each day, or the amount of completed tests. It is likely a proportion of those sent out will not be returned or improperly taken.

Matt Hancock said on the Today programme on 12 May that the government had “set a goal of 100,000 tests a day” and was “meeting it”.

The 100,000 target has only been achieved four times, on 30 April, 1 May, 10 May and 13 May. The number of people tested in a given day reached 73,191 on April 30, and has not climbed higher since.

It is not clear what exactly the mentioned targets are supposed to refer to.

On 6 May, Boris Johnson announced that the government’s ambition was to reach 200,000 tests per day by the end of May. The UK’s statistical regulator wrote to Matt Hancock to request clarity on whether the government’s targets are supposed to reflect testing capacity, tests that have been administered, test results received or the number of people tested.

This claim is Mostly False

Are healthy people in their 30s and 40s safe from coronavirus?

A prominent columnist suggested on social media that healthy people under the age of 50 did not need to be “kept safe” from coronavirus, and that the disease posed no threat to them.

This is not accurate. While it is much more likely for older people to die from coronavirus, there are a significant number of younger people dying from the disease, not all with underlying health problems.

World Health Organisation scientist, Dr Maria van Kerkhov, said on 4 April that “we’re seeing more and more individuals who are of the younger age group, in their 30s, in their 40s, in their 50s who are in ICU and who are dying.”

Research from Imperial College estimated that five per cent of people aged 40-49 who contracted coronavirus required hospitalisation.

This was backed up by WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On 20 March, he said: “Although older people are hardest hit, younger people are not spared. Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalisation”.

This claim is false

Did the first participant in the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial die?

News reports and a number of social media posts claimed that Dr Elisa Granato, one of the first people to participate in the Oxford University trial testing a new coronavirus vaccine, had died.

An article on 25 April claimed microbiologist Dr Granato had died from “complications” following her participation in the drug trial, and four others were seriously ill.

This is false.

The information was attributed to a statement from “the researchers”, which does not appear to exist. The quote attributed to the researchers appears only in articles about the alleged death.

Oxford University confirmed the information in the article was incorrect and Dr Granato remains alive and well.

This was also corroborated by BBC journalist Fergus Walsh, who said he had spoken to her on Sunday morning. The article was first published on Saturday.

The website, News NT, has been found to post false stories before, including a claim that 21 million people had died from coronavirus in China.

The trial which Dr Granato took part in on 23 April involves more than 800 people, half of which were injected with the Covid-19 vaccine and half with a control vaccine which is effective against meningitis, but not coronavirus.

This claim is false


Did Bill Gates say he doesn’t want a lot of people to recover from coronavirus?

Billionaire Bill Gates has donated money towards research into a coronavirus vaccine, leading to a number of widely shared articles and posts making claims about the Microsoft founder’s true intentions.

A number of articles and Facebook posts claimed Gates had said in an interview that he and his colleagues “don’t want a lot of recovered people” who have gained natural immunity. Instead, the post claims, Gates wants people to be reliant on vaccines and anti-viral medication.

The quote attributed to Gates was said during an interview with TED talks head Chris Anderson, However, it has been taken out of context. Gates was referring to the US lockdown, which aims to suppress the virus and reduce the number of people infected.

In response to a question about the role of recovered Covid-19 patients, Gates says: “We don’t want to have a lot of recovered people, to be clear we are trying with this lockdown in the United States to not get to one per cent of the population infected.

“We’re well below that today but with exponentiation, you could get past that three million. I believe we will be able to avoid that with having this economic pain.”

It is not yet known to what extent those who have had the virus gain immunity from it in future, but the UK chief medical officer Sir Patrick Vallance said in March that there was little evidence to suggest reinfection was common.

This claim is half true.

Does smoking protect you from coronavirus?

Prominent social media users and media reports, have suggested that smoking may offer some protection against Covid-19.

This appears to partly originate from a Paris study which hypothesised that something in tobacco, possibly nicotine could be stopping patients from catching Covid-19. The study interviewed patients at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in France, finding the number of smokers who had tested positive for Covid-19 was much lower than the proportion of smokers in the general population.

However, a number of studies have found a likely link between smoking and the severity disease. A review of five studies on Chinese patients concluded that smoking is most likely associated with worse symptoms of Covid-19.

One small sample Chinese study found smokers were 14 times more likely to develop serious symptoms.

This has been supported by the World Health Organisation and UK government advice. The WHO also states that smokers may be at greater risk of catching the disease because the act of smoking means more contact between the fingers and mouth.

Smokers with reduced lung capacity are more likely to experience serious symptoms from Covid-19.

While there seems to be increasing evidence that regular smokers who get coronavirus are more likely to experience serious illness, it is too early to say whether a substance in tobacco makes it less likely for someone to contract Covid-19.

This claim is false

Are certain blood types more likely to get Covid-19?

News articles and social media posts reported there was a link between those with blood type A and more severe symptoms of coronavirus.

This comes from a study by researchers at Wuhan University, that has yet to be peer-reviewed. It looked at the blood types of more than 2,000 people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and compared this with the population in the area.

Researchers found that 38 per cent of those with the virus had blood type A, compared to 31 per cent of the general population. Only 24 per cent of those with Covid-19 had blood type O, compared to 34 per cent of the population.

This was not replicated in a smaller trial with 285 patients from the Shenzhen area.

The study still needs to go through peer-review, where various experts look through the study to identify any weaknesses it may have in its assumptions, methods, and conclusions.

There has been little study about the link between blood type and Covid-19, as the disease is relatively new, so experts caution that this research is preliminary. Further research with wider trials of patients would be required before any concrete conclusions can be drawn.

There are established links between different blood types and how susceptible you are to certain diseases, but it is too early to tell whether this research holds up.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 7

Do high pH level foods stop the virus?

A widely shared claim that Covid-19 could be warded off by eating foods with a certain pH level has appeared online.

The post says that the “ph for corona virus varies from 5.5 to 8.5”, with the research attributed to the Journal of Virology and Antiviral Research. According to the post, “all we need to to beat corona virus” is eat foods that are above the pH level of the virus.

The pH scale shows how acidic or alkaline a water-based solution is. A virus does not have a pH level.

The foods listed with high pH levels are lemon, lime, avocado, garlic, mango, tangerine, pineapple, dandelion, and orange. None of them have the correct pH levels attributed, and none have a higher pH than the 8.5 that is claimed of Covid-19.

A person has many different pH levels in different parts of their body, and there is no evidence to suggest eating alkaline foods can have an impact on the pH levels within the body. Certain areas of the body are required to be more acidic, such as the stomach which uses acids to digest the food we eat.

This claim is false

Does ‘corona’ mean radiation?

Conspiracy theorists who inaccurately link the rollout of 5G,the latest generation of superfast wireless mobile internet, to coronavirus have claimed that there is a historical link between coronavirus and electromagnetic radiation. Some believe that radiation from 5G towers causes or exacerbates coronavirus.

The WHO has stated that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies” and it anticipated “no consequences for public health” from the rollout of 5G technology.

One social media page for Dr. Robert O Young, who describes himself as a ‘Naturopathic practitioner’, claims that the “Latin translation for the word Corona means radiation”.

This is incorrect.

The word corona was taken from the Latin word corōna, which means “garland, wreath, crown”.

The word was used for the family of coronaviruses by scientists in 1968 because of the characteristic ‘fringe’ around particles that was reminiscent of the solar corona, which is a visible layer of atmosphere around the sun.

This claim is false

Did Boris Johnson seize Covid-19 testing kits from Dundee University?

A widely-shared tweet claimed that testing kits for coronavirus were “removed from Dundee University and sent to Milton Keynes on Boris Johnson’s orders”.

This claim is misleading. The University of Dundee responded to a request from the UK government to help establish the first national diagnostic testing centre in Milton Keynes.

They donated two machines which were then transported by the Royal Navy, who were deployed locally.

This claim is false

Did the UK say China owes billions in coronavirus compensation?

An image which has been shared on many Facebook pages claimed that the UK wanted China to pay $6.5 trillion as compensation for “unleashing coronavirus”.

This is not a UK government position. The figures come from a report produced by a conservative think-tank called the Henry Jackson Society, and is based on the cost of measures taken by the G7 countries to inhibit the spread of Covid-19.

The think tank claims these measures amount to £3.2 trillion. The $6.5 trillion figure is actually from news articles on the report which translated the figure into Australian dollars.

The report suggests that countries take legal action against the Chinese government to recover Covid-19 spending and “preserve the rules-based international system”.

This claim is false

Should pets be kept indoors to avoid them spreading coronavirus?

A number of news articles suggested that cats should be kept indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic to stop them from spreading the virus.

These came from a statement from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) given to BBC

BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said cat owners should “practise good hand hygiene, try and keep cats indoors.”

However the BVA has updated its advice, and now says that it is only necessary to keep cats indoors if someone in the household has experienced coronavirus symptoms.

A report published in the journal Science found that cats are susceptible to catching Covid-19, but the World Health Organisation does not believe they are playing a part in transmission between people.

On 22 July, a pet cat became the first confirmed case of coronavirus in an animal in the UK, but there is no evidence the animal played a part in transmission of the disease to its owners.

There is some evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be passed between people on an animal’s fur, and vets are recommending that owners practice good hygiene after petting their animals, and avoid letting pets lick their faces.

This claim is Mostly False

Are MPs getting an extra £10,000 to work from home?

Social media and newspapers reported that MPs would be given an extra £10,000 as they set up working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. This was also posted on various Facebook pages.

This refers to an increase in the budget for office costs that MPs get each year from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

The £10,000 comes on top of the £26,000 MPs can claim to cover office costs.

MPs will not actually receive the money themselves, instead it is an addition to the limit of expenses they can claim back.

This claim is half true.

Does Vitamin D help to fight off Covid-19?

Posts on social media claimed doctors were advising the Scottish Government to send Vitamin D tablets to every household as it helps the body to fight off coronavirus.

This has not been proven. The Association of British Dieticians (BDA) says “no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19/Coronavirus”.

Public Health England has stated there is currently “no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid-19”

A recent study found a lack of Vitamin D could have a “significant negative impact” on a person’s immune response to infections. However, the research did not cover the role of Vitamin D relating to Covid-19.

A review of evidence by Public Health England reported four studies which have found a correlation between low levels of Vitamin D and development of Covid-19. However, factors such as body mass index (BMI) or underlying health conditions were not adjusted for.

The Scottish Government has updated its guidance to account for coronavirus, saying that everyone should consider a daily Vitamin D supplement. As people are advised to say indoors, many may be lacking in Vitamin D that comes from sunshine exposure.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 7


Does steaming your face with ginger, garlic, turmeric and lemon solution cure Coronavirus?

A video on Facebook claims that a woman had “healed herself completely without going to the hospital” using a combination of garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon.

In the video, the woman claims she mixed the ingredients with water and then steamed her face using the mixture, which eliminated her cough.

While steam inhalation may help to soothe a cough or blocked nose there is no evidence that it will cure coronavirus, nor that this combination of natural remedies will stop Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation says there is not yet a cure or vaccine for the new coronavirus.

This claim is false

Can you get coronavirus twice?

There have been reports that a number of people have tested positive for the virus a second time, after initially beating the disease.

This has led to some media outlets questioning whether you can gain natural immunity.

Covid-19 is a new disease, so scientists are still trying to work out exactly how it develops and its characteristics.

The UK’s chief medical officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, said on 16 March: “In any infectious disease there are cases where people can catch something again, they are rare. There is nothing to suggest that this is a common occurrence in this disease, but we are learning as we go along.”

The CDC said there is increasing evidence that humans do generally develop some sort of immunity after having Covid-19.

What is unknown yet is how long immunity from the new coronavirus could last.

This claim is half true.

Did Michel Barnier give Boris Johnson coronavirus?

The Mail on Sunday newspaper suggested that EU negotiator Michel Barnier could have been the ‘Patient Zero’ who infected Boris Johnson with Covid-19. ‘Patient Zero’ is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as the “first known case of a communicable disease in a particular population”.

The article suggests that “a meeting in Brussels on March 5 between Mr Barnier and David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator” led to Boris Johnson being infected.

This is misleading. There is no way to say definitively whether coronavirus was passed on to Boris Johnson by David Frost, or that Frost contracted the virus from the EU negotiator.

Later in the article, it is speculated that minister Nadine Dorries or even Prince Charles could have passed the virus on to the Prime Minister.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 7


Are doctors forcing coronavirus patients to sign DNRs?

Rumours online suggested that all patients hospitalised with coronavirus were being asked to sign do not resuscitate forms (DNRs), also known as Do Not Attempt CPR (DNACPR) forms, which would mean them not being resuscitated should their breathing stop.

Usually the decision to not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is made by the patient themselves, if they are in the advanced stages of a terminal illness, for example. It can also be decided by the healthcare team if CPR would not prevent their death, or if the person cannot contribute to the decision. This is then done where possible with the input of the close loved ones.

The Scottish Government confirmed there had been no change in the use of such documents, and that in situations requiring “difficult conversations with people and their families regarding their care wishes, they should be handled with care and tact”.

This claim is false

Are GPs sending out rescue packs?

For those who have impaired immune systems or are living with long-term conditions, the Covid-19 crisis has been extremely difficult.

Advice shared on social media said people with respiratory conditions such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma can get ‘rescue packs’ from GPs to provide emergency supplies of drugs to aid with breathing, should you suffer symptoms associated with Covid-19.

The post claims you will receive “a 5 day supply of a corticosteroid (prednisolone) and a 5 day supply of an antibiotic (usually amoxicillin or doxycycline) which can be started immediately if you develop any breathing issues”.

The Scottish Government confirmed these packs are generally available to patients who “are identified as being at risk of frequent exacerbations” in their condition’s symptoms. These are agreed as part of a self-management plan, and are not being released widely to deal with the symptoms of Covid-19.

This claim is Mostly False

Is the government offering people money via text messages?

On Tuesday 24 March, a text message alert was sent from the UK Government to all mobile phone users in the UK giving advice on new rules in force to keep people inside their homes.

Some people reported receiving another message seemingly from the UK government stating that a payment of £458 would be given to all residents “as part of its promise to battle Covid-19”.

The text message then has a link which you can tap to apply for the payment.

This is not from the UK government. It is a scam which directs to a realistic-looking website which attempts to gather personal and financial details.

The UK government has announced support for workers who are impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.

This claim is false

Is it dangerous to take ibuprofen if you have coronavirus?

The French health minister tweeted that anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and cortisone “could be an aggravating factor of the infection”.

This led to many media outlets reporting that the popular painkiller was dangerous to take if someone is experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

The NHS says there is “currently no strong evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse”.

But they recommend taking paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, until further evidence is gathered.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 10

Did the First Minister meet a coronavirus patient then go to a Cobra meeting?

A meme doing the rounds on social media suggested that Nicola Sturgeon met Scotland’s first Covid-19 patient and immediately afterwards attended a Cabinet Office briefing room (Cobra) meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss the crisis.

The Scottish Government said this claim was false. The First Minister did not meet with the first coronavirus patient in Scotland, instead issuing a statement wishing them a “speedy recovery”.

This claim is false

Will any mask be effective at stopping Covid-19?

The question of whether masks are effective against coronavirus has been debated throughout the crisis. One widely shared post claims that the coronavirus is “quite large” in size, so any mask will stop it.

The post claims that the Covid-19 particles are “about 400-500 nano-metres (nm) in diameter”.

This is not correct. The Chinese Centre for Disease Control, as well as a study of the virus in Chinese patients published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the virus particles ranged from “about 60 to 140 nm”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that masks should be worn “as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19.”

The Scottish Government and UK Government require the wearing a mask or face covering on public transport, indoor transport hubs, shops, and other indoor settings such as banks or post offices.

This is because “when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.”

This claim is half true.


Does a picture show a Glasgow venue turned into a hospital?

An image being shared in the Glasgow area claimed to show the Scottish Events Campus (SEC), formerly known as the SECC, with hospital beds set up. It does not.

The picture actually shows the Ifema exhibition complex in Madrid, which is set up to cater for Spanish patients during the pandemic.

The SEC is closed to adhere to Scottish Government advice, however the venue will be turned into a temporary hospital, the First Minister has announced.

This claim is false

Can the virus last for nine days on metal surfaces?

Advice on how long Covid-19 can last on surfaces has been regularly shared across social media.

One widely shared claim recommends that you “wash metallic surfaces carefully as the virus can survive up to nine days”.

Studies on similar viruses such as Sars and Mers found they can survive on metal, glass and plastic for up to nine days.

However, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine on COVID-19 found the virus survives for a shorter time.

It found the virus can survive up to “four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel”.

It is known the virus can spread through surfaces, so experts recommend that people keep all surfaces clean, and the Center for Disease Control suggests you “clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily”.

This claim is false

Should you gargle disinfectant to stop the virus?

One of many inaccurate health tips being widely circulated during the pandemic is that a disinfectant solution could be effective at killing Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation has said there is currently no cure, and has not recommended using a disinfectant mouthwash.

There is no evidence that a disinfectant solution is effective against Covid-19 and gargling with a homemade solution could be dangerous if swallowed.

This claim is false

Only a ‘dry’ cough is a symptom of coronavirus

One of the main symptoms of Covid-19 is a persistent cough. Many people are suffering a so-called ‘dry cough’ or non-productive cough, where no phlegm is brought up.

Some widely shared posts on social media claim that only a dry cough is a coronavirus symptom, and if you are suffering a ‘wet cough’, you do not have the virus.

However, the WHO’s report on Covid-19 patients in China found 33.4 per cent having saliva and mucus production from a cough.

The CDC states that the main symptoms that should cause someone to self-isolate are “fever, cough, shortness of breath”. The NHS similarly says a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.

This claim is false

Is Coronavirus low in Russia because lions were released into the streets?

Russia has reported relatively few Covid-19 cases and, as yet, no deaths have been officially linked to the virus.

This has led to questions about why the country of 146 million people has fewer cases than many smaller European nations.

One widely shared image claimed that after an order by President Putin, lions had been released upon Russian streets to make sure people respected instructions to stay indoors.

This is clearly false. The image appears to be in the style of Sky News, but in fact comes from a website called breakyourownnews.com. This is a website which allows you to create images with whatever text or image you want in the style of a rolling news headline.

There are further clues to show it is not real, particularly the misspelling of Vladimir.

The image itself is actually from a film shoot that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016.

This claim is false

Are zinc tablets a “silver bullet” against the virus?

A post written by respected pathologist James Robb was the source for a viral image claiming that zinc lozenges were a “silver bullet” against Covid-19.

The doctor had in fact recommended zinc lozenges as he believes them to be effective against similar diseases to the novel coronavirus. However, it has not been tested against Covid-19 and Robb has sought to downplay the comments. He said using the tablets as directed by the packaging “is no guarantee against being infected by the virus”.

The WHO, CDC and NHS have said there is currently no cure for Covid-19 and have not recommended zinc tablets.

This claim is false

Have army “quarantine team” vehicles been spotted on UK roads?

An image purporting to show an army vehicle on the UK’s M25 motorway near London with “Covid-19 quarantine team” on the side has been widely shared online.

It has been shared alongside rumours of an imminent lockdown for the UK, similar to those in France and Spain, where people will be required to stay in their homes.

There are numerous clues that this image is photoshopped, including the lettering’s pixelation, which suggests it was digitally added to the original image. The car also appears to be driving on the right side of the road, which would suggest it was photographed outside the UK.

The vehicle shown is what is known as a Humvee, which experts at UK Defence Journal confirmed to Ferret Fact Service was not a vehicle used by the British military.

The image has also been claimed to be taken in Ohio in the US, and UK Defence Journal suggested it was likely a US National Guard vehicle.

This claim is false

Did people in the UK get the virus unknowingly in November and December?

A Facebook post widely shared claims that people in the UK who got ill in November or December 2019, actually had caught Covid-19.

The post reads “Who got sick in November or December and it lasted 10 to 14 days,?‍♀️ with the worst cough that wouldn’t go away??‍♀️ it was horrible! If you can answer yes, then you probably had the coronavirus.”

This is inaccurate. The first known case of Covid-19 appears to have occurred in China in November 2019. The virus was first diagnosed in the UK on 31 January 2020.

A virus which was contracted in November or December 2019 was not coronavirus as it had not reached the UK at this time.

This claim is false

Can drinking alcohol stop coronavirus?

A number of memes and widely shared posts on social media suggested that the virus could be stopped by drinking alcohol, and that Scotland’s reputation for alcohol consumption would mean fewer cases.

The WHO has said that drinking alcohol does not protect you from the Covid-19 virus, and warned against drinking more than in moderation. Drinking too much could affect your immune system, leaving you more likely to pick up viruses.

This claim is false

Can you stop coronavirus with a sauna or hairdryer?

A video has been shared widely on Whatsapp with a doctor suggesting a novel form of home remedy to kill off the Covid-19 virus.

It claims that Covid-19 cannot survive in hot temperatures, and advises spending time in a sauna or even directing a hairdryer up your nose to increase the temperature in your nose and sinus cavity.

This is inaccurate information.

The video, presented by Dr Dan Lee Dimke, claims that viruses “live and reproduce only within the coolest areas of the body… the nose and sinus cavity”. This is false.

Viruses work by affecting cells and “using these cells to multiply and produce other viruses”. The heat of your nasal cavity will not kill off such a virus.

Covid-19 has yet no known cure, although scientists are working on it, and no medical professional would advocate using a hairdryer or sauna to kill coronavirus.

Dr Dan Lee Dimke is not a medical doctor. His website claims he achieved a doctorate in education. He appears to have written numerous books on pseudo-science, decision making, and wealth generation among others.

This claim is false

The ten-second breathing test

Widely shared posts suggest that doctors in Taiwan had developed a way for people to test whether they have the virus.

It suggests that people should “take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds.” If this is possible without coughing, stiffness, discomfort or tightness, the post claims there is no infection.

This is not accurate. The claim suggests it works because those with Covid-19 symptoms will have “50 per cent fibrosis and it’s too late”.

Fibrosis is a condition where someone’s lungs become scarred, making breathing increasingly difficult.

Numerous experts have debunked the claim that the breathing test will identify Covid-19. Many people will be able hold their breath even with the condition, as it can have differing levels of symptoms.

Fibrosis is possible with Covid-19, but will only develop in the minority of patients.

This claim is false

Is the virus killed by heat at 27 degrees?

Many have claimed that Covid-19 is not heat resistant, with one post suggesting it “will be killed by a temperature of just 26-27 degrees. It hates the sun”.

The Center for Disease Control has said that it is not yet known how the virus will be impacted by warmer weather. Some viruses such as the common cold and flu spread more commonly during colder winter months, but you can still get them at any time.

The WHO stated on March 5 that there is “no reason to believe that this virus would behave differently in different temperatures”.

The reference to “26-27 degrees” killing Covid-19 is not supported by any evidence.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus 10

Can pneumonia vaccines stop coronavirus?

Readers have reported hearing that you can be protected from Covid-19 if you have received the pneumonia vaccine.

This is likely due to a misunderstanding of the difference between pneumonia and the novel coronavirus called Covid-19.

While Covid-19 comes from the same family of viruses, the WHO says vaccines are not effective against it as it is a new disease.

Researchers are currently working to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, but there is not yet one available.

This claim is false

Was the outbreak caused by 5G?

The rollout of 5G, the latest generation of superfast wireless mobile internet, has been at the centre of a number of debates over its safety.

A post on Facebook connected the roll-out of 5G to the coronavirus outbreak. It claims that Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, was one of the first places that 5G was rolled out, and suggests the technology had “wrecked immune systems”,“boosted the virulency of the common cold” and that the coronavirus in Wuhan, China was “sickness from exposure to excessive 5G radiation”.

It was posted in an UK anti-5G Facebook group, and has been shared hundreds of times.

While it’s true that parts of Wuhan have got 5G coverage, there is no evidence linking this to the Covid-19 outbreak, or that 5G can damage the immune system.

The World Health Organisation has stated that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies” and anticipated “no consequences for public health” from the rollout of 5G technology.

Like previous generations 2G, 3G and 4G, the mobile data is transmitted over radio waves. 5G uses slightly higher frequencies than earlier mobile networks. It is widely considered to be ‘non-ionising’ which means it is not able to directly damage the DNA inside cells, however some have suggested long-term exposure to such frequencies could be linked to various health problems.

The post’s suggestion that coronavirus is a common cold with boosted virulence is without foundation. Coronavirus is the name for a family of viruses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current Covid-19 outbreak is a new disease in this family first identified in people in Hubei province in China.

This claim is false

Can these home remedies work?

Lifestyle and wellness bloggers and social media personalities have been among those who are promoting home remedies to either cure coronavirus or boost your immunity to the disease.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C pills have been suggested as a way to stop the virus, with one Facebook personality suggesting “the coronavirus pandemic can be stopped with the immediate widespread use of high doses of Vitamin C”.

According to the WHO, NHS, and Center for Disease Control there is no vaccine or specific medication to prevent Covid-19.

Experts say the best way to avoid contracting the virus is lack of exposure. The NHS recommends washing hands more regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser.


Garlic has also been claimed as effective against Covid-19, with posts on social media saying it can prevent infection with the disease. The WHO says that while garlic is healthy and has some microbial properties, there is no evidence to suggest it is effective against the new coronavirus.

This claim is false

Is regularly drinking water effective?

A number of posts have spread similar but incorrect advice about ways to stop or lessen coronavirus. One such remedy is drinking water every 15 minutes.

This advice allegedly from “Japanese doctors treating Covid-19 cases” suggests people should make sure they are drinking water every 15 minutes to avoid their mouth and throat going dry. This, the posts claim, is because even if the virus gets into your throat it will be washed down into your stomach where stomach acids will kill it.

This has been refuted by the WHO, who said that while staying hydrated is important for overall health, it does not prevent Covid-19 infection.

This claim is false

Is Dettol proven to kill Covid-19?

NHS advice on slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak focuses on people washing their hands regularly, particularly when you get home from or arrive at work, after you blow your nose or cough, eat or handle food. They recommend using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Posts across social media have suggested that one particular brand of anti-bacterial cleaner had been tested against coronavirus in 2019.

A viral image of the back of a Dettol bottle shows text saying Dettol ‘anti-bacterial surface cleanser’ is proven to kill bacteria including “human coronavirus”.

The post is misleading, and stems from a misunderstanding of what ‘coronavirus’ actually refers to. While the term coronavirus has been taken up in media reports to refer to the current outbreak, it actually covers a family of viruses including SARS and the common cold. The current outbreak is actually being called Covid-19 and is a new type of coronavirus not previously seen in humans.

Dettol has not tested their onsale products against Covid-19, although the company claims it has shown effectiveness in similar viruses.

It is important to note that the primary way Covid-19 spreads is through “respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing” when people are in close contact, rather than via surfaces. Using disinfectant to keep surfaces clean is still recommended, however.

This claim is Mostly False

Fact check updated to 30 October 2020.

We are trying to fact check as many claims about the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak as we can. If you see anything you think we should check please email us at factcheck@theferret.scot

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

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