Health

I’m a Doctor and Warn You Don’t Believe These COVID Myths

There is a lot of information circulating regarding COVID-19 vaccines, potential off market treatments for the virus and the effectiveness of masks. In fact, many online forums are filled with claims, purportedly backed up with scientific evidence and the endorsement of health experts. However, according to Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, some of the information is not only downright wrong, but potentially dangerous. In fact, believing it may prove fatal. Here are 6 dangerous COVID myths currently being propagated and compelling evidence of why you shouldn’t believe them. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.

Mother puts a safety mask on her son's face.
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Many states and school districts are mandating masks for students, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. One of the biggest concerns voiced by parents is the idea that masks are damaging to their children’s health and could result in long-term repercussions. 

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However, this isn’t the case, according to Dr. Mareiniss. “Wearing a mask will not cause physical harm to your child,” he explains. “There are no adverse effects on breathing, increase in carbon dioxide inhalation or any adverse effect on the immune system.” He even points out that the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the use of facemasks to prevent infection with COVID-19. If you are worried about your child’s health, he notes that you should focus your concern on preventing an infection. “If your child is infected with the delta variant, there is potential harm that may result.” Bottom line: “As masks are protective against infection, wearing masks is beneficial.”  

Doctor holding Pfizer Biontech vaccine against coronavirus COVID disease
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One of main concerns people have about the vaccine is that it is dangerous and even deadly. In fact, some are claiming the vaccine is more deadly than the virus itself. 

Woman wearing face mask looking at camera showing thumbs up after getting the covid-19 vaccine.
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Dr. Mareiniss points to CDC data: There have been 38,852,581 COVID-19 infections in the United States and 635,015 deaths from these infections since March 2020. From December 14, 2020 through August 23, 2021, over 363 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States. “Of those doses, there have been extremely few reported life-threatening complications or deaths,” he points out. Recently, there was one confirmed death from an mRNA vaccine administered in New Zealand. In addition, there were some deaths secondary to TTS as a result of the J&J vaccine. “However, the number of confirmed deaths from vaccination is extraordinarily rare,” he continues. 

“The idea and misconception that the vaccination is causing more deaths than coronavirus infections is completely false and not supported by any data. Further, the assertion is dangerous as it may prevent people from being vaccinated and, thus, cause avoidable deaths. The vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations currently are from unvaccinated people. Vaccination, by accurate and irrefutable data, prevents hospitalization and death and is the single most effective way to avoid an adverse outcome.”

Pregnant patient in face mask in a hospital at doctor visit during coronavirus outbreak
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Another concern of parents and younger people is that the vaccine may impact fertility. Some even believe it can sterilize women. And, there is also chatter that it may cause birth defects down the road. 

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Happy mother with newborn baby
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This is simply not true, states Dr. Mareiniss. “The subject has actually been studied and no effect has been seen on fertility nor has any birth defect or teratogenic effect been determined to date,” he explains. “Further, ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) has endorsed vaccination for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In addition, CDC has specifically noted that these vaccinations are safe and indicated in pregnant women, breastfeeding women and those planning pregnancy. Additionally, specific studies examining fertility in vaccinated women showed no negative effect of vaccination. Also, a study published in April 2021 in the New England Journal of Medicine did not show any increase in adverse outcomes for vaccinated pregnant women.”

Box of Ivermectin tablets, an antiparasitic drug
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Some people are taking ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that is used to treat river blindness and intestinal roundworm infection in humans and to deworm pets and livestock, in hopes that it will prevent COVID-19 infection. Others are taking it after they become infected in order to treat it. 

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Doctor studying virus bacteria in the lab
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“Ivermectin has been studied in several trials as a potential treatment for COVID-19. However, the data is indeterminate at this point as it was low quality,” explains Dr. Mareiniss.  In addition, some of the studies, notably one retrospective study, had confounding issues. “Patients treated with Ivermectin were also treated with steroids, which are known to be beneficial for severe covid symptoms. As a result, the study was inconclusive. Also, although some in vitro studies (studies performed in test tubes) showed potential benefit of Ivermectin, it was at a dose/concentration that far exceeded those achieved with safe drug doses.” He also points out that there is clear danger to taking inappropriate high doses of Ivermectin. “Large doses of this drug can lead to significant toxic effects including: gastrointestinal effects (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea), headache, blurred vision, dizziness, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), hypotension, visual hallucinations, altered mental status, confusion, loss of coordination and balance, central nervous system depression, and seizures.”

Woman taking off mask with ear gesture annoyed by mask in coronavirus pandemic
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Some people believe that masks are ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID, which has become a big argument of parents fighting mask mandate policies in schools. 

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Woman wearing a face mask working on a laptop in cafe
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There is a large amount of study data that demonstrates that using masks (not just N95 masks) is effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and decreasing transmission, notes Dr. Mareiniss. “Those who claim that no data exists are mistaken. There is both observational data and animal study data supporting the use of masks to prevent infections. Of note, there is study data supporting the use of both cloth and surgical masks as effective in preventing infectious transmission,” he says. “For those who claim that the data only supports N-95 use, again, this is not correct. The coronavirus spreads primarily indoors and via aerosol. As a result, masking significantly decreases viral transmission in the air and potential infection. Published data has demonstrated decreased transmission with the use of masks. Notably and supporting this fact, in hospitals where staff wear masks at all times, several outbreaks have been linked to breakrooms where staff eat unmasked with others.”

Young sick student teenager woman outside at bus stop is sneezing into the elbow by an allergy or cold. Scared woman in protective mask afraid cough woman outdoor
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Another argument that many people have when it comes to mask mandates, is that their decision to not wear a mask doesn’t impact anyone but themself. Instead of mandating masks in schools, they believe that masks should be optional, and that if people are concerned they can just wear a mask and be fine. 

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A girl taking a selfie of her family outdoors with face masks.
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Dr. Mareiniss notes that masks work best when everyone is wearing them. “During an infectious disease crisis, like the current pandemic, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, masking and avoiding large gatherings have specifically been shown to decrease disease transmission, hospitalization and death in the community,” he explains. “Failing to mask or observe these public health recommendations puts all individuals in the community at risk. If an individual refuses to mask and is infected, they may inadvertently cause transmission and potential death of others. So, ‘doing me’ will affect or potentially harm you and you and you.” So be safe out there, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.


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