Just because a story appears online, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily true. The internet is great, but it can also be used to spread misleading news and content. Protect yourself and your friends from false information about coronavirus.
Throughout of the coronavirus pandemic there has been fake news circulating about the virus. These false accusations have no legitimate scientific evidence supporting their claims. When shared, false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories. We urge you not to follow any of the advice from non-legitimates sources, such as conspiracy theory videos or claims, but instead to follow Government guidelines. All Government information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. Recently there has been a lot of this kind of false information about coronavirus. It’s not always easy to spot, so use the SHARE checklist to make sure you're not contributing to the spread of harmful content.
- Source: Rely on official sources for medical and safety information. Check the facts about coronavirus on the NHS website and GOV.UK.
- Headline: Headlines don’t always tell the full story. Always read to the end before you share articles about coronavirus.
- Analyse: Analyse the facts. If something sounds unbelievable, it very well might be. Independent fact-checking services are correcting false information about coronavirus every day.
- Retouched: Watch out for misleading pictures and videos in stories about coronavirus. They might be edited, or show an unrelated place or event. Check to see who else is using the photo.
- Error: Look out for mistakes. Typos and other errors might mean the information is false. Official guidance about coronavirus will always have been carefully checked.
People passing themselves off as experts in videos have become crucial to the spread of false claims. Documentary-style films which promote conspiracy theories are increasingly popular, and a marked evolution from the dodgy medical advice being forwarded on WhatsApp at the start of the pandemic, all of which are simply not true. Slick production means videos often look quite credible initially - before promoting totally false claims.
You should only accept information from trusted health bodies and authorities. They have scientific evidence to support their advice, these conspiracy theories do not.
The Government is working with the social media companies to take much swifter action on removing these nonsense claims which are spreading online, and I would urge you to call out such nonsense when it appears online. Below we have used the latest evidence from scientists and medical professionals to debunk some of the most widely spread myths about the virus.
MYTH: Only the really sick and elderly are dying from COVID-19
TRUTH: This is untrue and unethical.
The average age in intensive care units is just over 60 years old. Pre-existing conditions that make one high risk can be as simple as asthma, diabetes or being overweight.
Although being young and not having any underlying health problems means you do have a lower risk, young and healthy people are still very much vulnerable to the virus.
MYTH: COVID-19 is no more dangerous than the flu.
TRUTH: COVID-19 kills up to 10x more than the flu.
Flu kills an average of 11,000 people a year in England, but COVID-19 killed over 70 thousand people in England in 2020.
Coronavirus has a much higher hospitalisation rate compared with the flu (19% vs. 2%)
Research at John Hopkins University indicates that COVID is more fatal, impacts people for longer (up to 30 days) and spreads faster than the flu.
Claiming that COVID is no more dangerous than the flu trivialises the destruction this virus has already brought to so many lives.
MYTH: The recovery rate from COVID-19 is 99.7%-99.9%
TRUTH: This is incorrect, the recovery rate is much lower.
The above figure suggests that between 0.03% and 0.06% of people who get COVID-19 die, but this can not be true.
At the end of June 2020, scientists estimated that the actual fatality rate in England was about 0.9%.
MYTH: COVID is only a respiratory disease, and will only last a couple of weeks.
TRUTH: COVID-19 is more than just a bad cold and some people will shrug off the illness quickly, but for other it could leave long-lasting problems. Age, gender and other health conditions all increase the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and the more invasive the treatment, the longer the recovery is likely to take.
In response to ‘long COVID’, which is estimated to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK, the NHS has set up specialist clinics to help those affected which cause continuing fatigue, breathlessness and pain.
MYTH: If you have COVID and aren’t showing symptoms you won’t transmit the disease.
TRUTH: Not everyone who has COVID-19 has symptoms and it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms in some cases.
The World Health Organisation’s laboratory data suggests that infected people appear to be most infectious just before they develop symptoms.
MYTH: COVID-19 deaths are being exaggerated
TRUTH: COVID deaths are most likely under-reported rather than exaggerated.
The majority of COVID declared deaths have positive swabs. A minority are recorded as COVID without a swab if the radiological picture or symptoms strongly suggest COVID in the absence of any other explanation and doing a post-death swab is undesirable/ impractical.
This is in keeping with normal medical practice.
MYTH: COVID-19 is caused by the 5G network
TRUTH: Viruses cannot travel on radio waves.
COVID is spreading in countries without 5G. There is no scientific connection.
This myth started as the COVID outbreak happened to coincide with 5G being rolled out in Wuhan. It ignores the fact that 5G had been started in other areas of China before the COVID outbreak and that COVID has also affected countries that do not have 5G.