What not to believe: Coronavirus myths you should ignore

Britons have been faced by a mind-boggling flood of myths about coronavirus, according to new research.

The use of vodka or garlic or even holding your breath have been suggested as ways of warding off the deadly illness that is sweeping across the globe.

The most widely believed false claim is that vodka can be used as hand sanitiser, according to YouGov who questioned 2,099 adults.

The reality is that there is not enough alcohol in vodka to effectively kill microbes but 32% of Britons felt it was probably true the virus could be tackled by using the spirit.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko thinks vodka can ward off the virus (Tim Ireland/PA)</figcaption>
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko thinks vodka can ward off the virus (Tim Ireland/PA)

It comes after the Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko suggested that his fellow citizens should drink 50ml of vodka a day to ward off the virus. Regular trips to the sauna, working in the fields and having breakfast on time were also among his suggestions.

Many Britons are also happy to put their faith in a face mask with 6% saying it definitely protects you against coronavirus while 22% feel it is probably true, the researchers found.

A mask can cut the chances of contracting the virus if you are spending time close to someone who is infected and it can protect other people if you have symptoms, YouGov notes.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Some people think the virus will die in the spring weather (David Davies/PA)</figcaption>
Some people think the virus will die in the spring weather (David Davies/PA)

There were 14% of adults who believe that coronavirus will die off in spring, but since this is a novel virus everyone has yet to find out if this is the case.

The researchers also found that 13% of people falsely think pets can pass on the virus.

Among the false rumours which seem to have been brought to life on social media is that holding your breath for 10 seconds means you cannot get the virus, which 16% of adults think is true.

A similar number also believe that drinking water every 15 minutes will flush out the virus.

YouGov says these bogus bits of advice can be traced back to false claims that it came from experts at Stanford University in the US or it was supposed to have been in advice that went to NHS staff.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Eating garlic is among the false claims of how to tackle the virus (Yui Mok/PA)</figcaption>
Eating garlic is among the false claims of how to tackle the virus (Yui Mok/PA)

Some social media posts have recommended eating garlic to prevent infection but only 4% of Britons believe it would make a difference, according to the researchers.

Another claim is that drinking hot drinks could help prevent infection, advice which one in 10 Britons believe is valid, while 8% of adults thought there would be a benefit by staying in the sun.

Men are more likely to downplay the severity of the virus as 24% of them believe coronavirus is “just like the flu” compared with 16% of women, according to the research which notes that the mortality rate is higher for this current pandemic than normal flu.

The idea that coronavirus only affects older people and those with underlying health conditions was believed by 14% of men and 8% of women.

The researchers also found that men also appeared to be less likely to believe official Government advice, such as the need to stay indoors as a way to stop the virus from spreading, with 10% saying this was false compared with 2% of women.

Frequent handwashing, staying indoors and keeping two metres away from people – which are part of official advice to help stop the spread of the virus – is believed by 92%, 90% and 89% respectively to be a true and effective measure against getting the illness.