Fact or Fiction? How to Spot COVID-19 Misinformation

With new information about COVID-19 comes misinformation, too! False claims and rumors about everything from treatments and remedies to how the virus is spread are popping up everywhere--it’s hard to keep track of what’s accurate and what’s not. Our host Myles Bess not only sets the record straight by speaking to a public health expert to answer some of your most burning COVID-19 questions, but also gives you some quick tips on how to fact-check information you’re coming across online.

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New information about COVID-19 and the coronavirus is coming at us fast, and sometimes the new information contradicts what was previously believed. And that’s just how science works. Scientists all over the world are working fast to try to learn as much as they can about coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes in humans. Because of this gap between what scientists already know and changing information as they do more research, it makes sense that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there.

So we talked to a public health expert, Dr. John Swartzberg from U.C. Berkeley's School of Public Health,  to set the record straight on a few common questions.  Here are some of his answers to your questions.

Does taking Vitamin C protect you against COVID-19?  No, there’s no evidence that vitamin C will protect you against COVID-19. Vitamin C is important for your overall health and immune system, but you can get that with the foods you eat. No need to spend money on lots of vitamin c supplements.

If you can hold your breath for 20 seconds does that mean you don’t have COVID-19?  No. That recommendation is a myth-- don’t follow it.

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Does drinking alcohol kill the virus? No, and what's more - drinking alcohol actually weakens the immune system.

Here are some of our tips on how to figure out if what you’re coming across online is legit or not.

Read laterally.  Open up some google tabs and see if you can validate the information. Google the publication, google the person being interviewed, google the claim/ story itself. If there are lots of legit news organizations, or health organizations corroborating the claim, then it’s probably good to go.

Know who to trust. The CDC, World Health Organization (WHO) and Johns Hopkins are great resources to go to for up to date information about the virus and disease. Snopes.com and Poynter’s COVID-19 misinformation have professional fact checkers that busting some common COVID-19 myths too.

Also, check out our video on how to spot bad science reporting.

RESOURCES

COVID-19 misinformation is going viral — help stop the spread (Poynter)

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters (WHO) 

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

The CoronavirusFacts Alliance Database (Poynter) 

Severe Outcomes Among Patients with (COVID-19)-US, Feb 12–Mar 16, 2020 (CDC)