Woman washing her hands in her kitchen sink
Woman washing her hands in her kitchen sink
Woman washing her hands in her kitchen sink

Covid-19 — Myth Versus Fact

Featured Experts:

Updated September 21, 2021

A lot of information is circulating about COVID-19, so it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not.

Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, answer your questions.

TRUE or FALSE? A negative COVID test means you are safe.

The answer is false.

If you get a COVID-19 test and the result is negative, that means you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. But if you get tested too soon after exposure to the coronavirus, it could be too early for signs of infection to show up on the test. Also, testing negative for the coronavirus now does not mean you cannot become infected in the future or that you are immune from getting COVID-19. 

TRUE or FALSE? Quercetin, essential oils and other supplements can protect you from the coronavirus or treat COVID-19.

The answer is false.

Taking quercetin, zinc, or vitamin D and other nutritional supplements cannot prevent or treat coronavirus infection or COVID-19. The same is true of essential oils — they are not effective to prevent coronavirus disease. The best ways to stay safe from COVID-19 are getting vaccinated, wearing a mask (especially in crowded or indoor settings), keeping your hands clean and practicing physical distancing.

TRUE or FALSE? Herd immunity will end the coronavirus pandemic, so vaccinations are not necessary.

The answer is false.

Herd immunity is a term that refers to cases of an infectious disease slowing down and stopping when enough people in a population have immunity, either from getting and surviving a disease or from being vaccinated.

For COVID-19, letting people get the disease would result in many people getting severely sick, suffering lasting organ damage and even dying before herd immunity could occur.

Being vaccinated for COVID-19 drastically reduces your chance of having severe COVID-19 if you are exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease. Immunity from the vaccine may last longer than immunity from having COVID-19. Also, vaccination reduces the number of infections that give the coronavirus an opportunity to mutate (change). Mutations (variants) of the virus (such as the contagious delta variant) can delay or even prevent herd immunity from being reached.

TRUE or FALSE? Ivermectin cures or prevents COVID-19.

The answer is false.

Ivermectin is a medicine that controls parasites in animals and humans. Irresponsible and misleading reports are circulating in social media and elsewhere that taking the drug is a safe way to prevent or cure COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized or approved the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19. The FDA has received reports of humans taking veterinary ivermectin. The formulas for horses and other animals are different than for people and can be very toxic (poisonous) to humans. Taking ivermectin for nonapproved reasons or in large doses can be harmful, and can lead to hospitalization and even death.

TRUE or FALSE? Warm water or saline will protect you from getting sick if you’re exposed to the coronavirus.

The answer is false.

False reports are circulating that drinking or bathing in warm or hot water, or washing out the inside of your nose with saline (salt) solution, will protect you from COVID-19 if you are exposed to the coronavirus. These reports are not true. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is very tiny and cannot be rinsed or washed out of the throat or nasal passages. The best ways to prevent infection are to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and practice hand hygiene and physical distancing.

TRUE or FALSE? Children can get COVID-19.

The answer is true.

Children can get COVID-19. In most cases, COVID-19 seems to be milder in young children than in adults, but parents and caregivers should understand that children can be infected with the coronavirus and transmit it to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and older. Johns Hopkins Medicine encourages all families to have eligible children vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only approved COVID-19 vaccine for children.

COVID-19 cases in children are increasing. This is partly because the available COVID-19 vaccines have only been recently authorized for children age 5 -11. The widespread circulation in the U.S. of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is another factor. 

In rare cases, children infected with the coronavirus can develop a serious lung infection and become very sick with COVID-19, and deaths have occurred. That’s why it is important to follow proven COVID-19 precautions such as wearing a mask when in public, indoor places to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus. We can help protect children who are too young to be vaccinated by ensuring that all of the eligible people around them get vaccinated.

TRUE or FALSE? You can get a face mask exemption card so you don’t need to wear a mask.

The answer is false.

Fake cards and flyers claiming that the bearers are exempt from mask-wearing regulations have shown up in some areas. The cards, which some people have bought online, may have official-looking logos or government insignias. They claim that people carrying them have a physical or mental condition covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that makes them unable to wear a face mask or covering.

The US. Department of Justice issued a statement about these fake mask exemptions, explaining that the cards and flyers are fraudulent.

People have tried to use the fake cards to avoid wearing a mask in public places that require them, such as some stores and restaurants. The cards are not issued by the U.S. government and are not backed by the ADA.

TRUE or FALSE? You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by injecting, swallowing, bathing in or rubbing onto your body bleach, disinfectants or rubbing alcohols.

The answer is false.

These products are highly toxic and should never be swallowed or injected into the body. Call 911 if this occurs.

Disinfectants, bleach, and soap and water may be used to clean surfaces, an important step in stopping the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Never attempt to self-treat or prevent COVID-19 by rubbing or bathing anywhere on your body with bleach, disinfectants or rubbing alcohol. Effective hand sanitizers do contain alcohol, but they are formulated to be safe for use on hands.

Learn more about protecting yourself from the coronavirus and COVID-19.

TRUE or FALSE? A vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is available.

The answer is true.

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and one has received full FDA approval. Johns Hopkins Medicine views all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Scientist carefully insets a pipette into a test tube.

What you need to know from Johns Hopkins Medicine.