Skip to main content
COVID-19: Get the facts. Learn what's true.

Reviewed 10/20/2020

9 facts & myths about COVID-19

There's a lot of misinformation on the internet and elsewhere about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Some of the misinformation is about phony cures and who can get the virus. To stay healthy, you want to follow good advice coming from reliable sources.

Here are some myths and facts about the coronavirus.

Fact: Washing your hands helps protect against the coronavirus. Frequently washing your hands with soap and water or cleaning them with an alcohol-based sanitizer can help protect against the virus. Doing so helps you avoid infections that could occur if you touch your eyes, mouth or nose.

Fact: The coronavirus can spread through the air. The virus may sometimes linger in the air in poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Or it may stay on surfaces for a short time. But the main way it spreads is through close contact with someone who has the virus. It usually passes from one person to another through droplets the infected person breathes out. 

Myth: Hand dryers can kill the coronavirus. Not true. Hand dryers are good for drying your hands after washing them, but the warm air won't have an effect on the virus itself.

Myth: You should use an ultraviolet (UV) lamp to disinfect your skin. UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of the skin. UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

Fact: The coronavirus may not cause symptoms right away. It can take anywhere between 2 and 14 days before people who are infected develop symptoms.

Myth: Spraying bleach or chlorine on your skin or drinking it can kill the coronavirus. Not true. Bleach and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces like kitchen counters and doorknobs. But you should never drink them or use them on your skin. They are poisonous when ingested. And they can damage skin.

Fact: Vaccines for pneumonia and the flu won’t protect you against the coronavirus. It's true that these vaccines don't protect against the virus. But they are important for other reasons. Almost everyone 6 months and older needs a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you may also need the pneumococcal vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 right now.

Myth: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help prevent infection with the coronavirus. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline can prevent infection with the virus.

Fact: People of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus. While people of all ages can be infected by the virus, older people—and those with pre-existing medical conditions—appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

Wash your hands the right way

Learn how to wash your hands in the most effective way to prevent germs.

WASH YOUR HANDS

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization

Related stories