The novel coronavirus (the pathogen called SARS-CoV-2) has spread from China’s Wuhan to every continent on Earth except Antarctica. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The virus has far infected millions globally and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. It is common to be fearful when the word ‘pandemic’ is attached to something, and with fear comes rumours and misinformation.
So here we are going to dissect some of the most common myths about COVID-19.
1. Use of Vitamin D lowers the risk of coronavirus: Some reports claim that the intake of Vitamin D supplements lowers the risk of COVID-19. According to Medical News Today, the authors of the controversial paper that appeared in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research had found a correlation between how more COVID-19 deaths were reported from countries where people had low mean levels of Vitamin D
However, researchers from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom said: “We found no clinical evidence on vitamin D in [the prevention or treatment of] COVID-19.”
One report by specialists from various institutions in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, and the United States even noted that taking Vitamin D supplements without first seeking medical advice can be harmful.
2. Zinc can prevent coronavirus infection: Zinc supports the functioning of our immune system. Working on this, a team of researchers hypothesized that zinc might be able to act as a preventive and adjuvant therapeutic for COVID-19, reported the Medical News Today.
In a “Practice patterns and guidelines” paper, nutritionist Emma Derbyshire and biochemist Joanne Delange said that according to available research, zinc supplementation may help prevent pneumonia in young children. But they noted that there is not enough evidence about the role of zinc supplementation in preventing viral infections in general.
“Rigorous trials […] are yet to determine the efficacy of zinc supplementation,” they write.
3. Vitamin C can prevent, cure COVID-19: It’s a fact that sufficient Vitamin C supports immune function. But these claims might be based on an existing ongoing clinical trial in China, which is looking at the effects of high dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C on hospitalized patients receiving care for severe COVID-19, the report said.
“Although high dose IV vitamin C might help alleviate COVID-19 symptoms in severely ill patients, regular vitamin C supplements are very unlikely to help people fight off infections with SARS-CoV-2,” experts from the Linus Pauling at Oregon State University in Corvallis were quoted as saying the report.
4. Keto diet can be helpful in treating COVID-19: This is because it could help boost our immune system. But most of the studies are based on animal rather than human trials. There is no evidence at present to suggest that the keto diet could help a healthy person prevent or treat coronavirus infection.
5. Herbal medicines can treat coronavirus: These claims are based on a statement by a Chinese official that some herbal drugs could help treat COVID-19. However, author Yichang Yang of Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou warned that people should be encouraged to use herbal remedies with a pinch of salt for treating COVID-19.
He warned that they could have unexpected risks and evidence from human trials is very limited.