You can listen on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Robin Meade, CNN “Morning Express” anchor: Why do some people believe that there could be a link between 5G and coronavirus?
Alisyn Camerota, CNN “New Day” anchor: This is beyond snake oil.
Dr. Ashish Jha, Harvard Global Health Institute director: And the point is now we’re spending all of our time talking about what we should be doing with Lysol.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Since I started reporting on the coronavirus, I’ve heard a lot of myths and theories about it.
The outbreak has unleashed so much information, the World Health Organization has called it an infodemic. And there’s so much misinformation that goes along with it.
Today I’m going to try and set the record straight on some inaccurate information that’s been circulating on social media and the internet.
I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. And this is “Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction.”
Gupta: Number one: Does remdesivir cure coronavirus?
Remdesivir is not a cure. But it’s a start, and it could be a very important start.
This is an experimental drug, an antiviral. I’ve been reporting on it since 2014, when it was tested as an experimental treatment for Ebola.
It didn’t work back then, but recently, a government-funded study found that hospitalized patients who took remdesivir intraveneously recovered about four days faster than patients who didn’t.
The benefit on average was about 31 percent.
That’s similar to the effect that the drug Tamiflu has on the flu. Tamiflu also doesn’t cure patients, but it can reduce how long they are sick and how severe that sickness is.
So let me tell you what this FDA emergency-use authorization really means: The FDA is allowing the use of this drug remdesivir for adults and children suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, who also have severe disease, which includes low blood oxygen levels.
For now, this is a medication that has to be administered in a hospital through an IV, by a health care provider.
Now, keep in mind, emergency use authorization doesn’t mean that this is an FDA-approved drug — but it is a sign that the FDA believes that the benefits of this drug outweigh the risks in certain patients.
Now I want to remind you that this study has nothing to do with how soon we might see a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Number two: Injesting disinfectants can possibly treat the virus.
Listener: Just to make sure, you shouldn’t drink Lysol, right?
Gupta: I know you probably know the answer to this one already. And the reason that we’re talking about it is because it still seems to be a source of confusion for some people.
Let me be clear about this. Under no circumstances should you ingest or inject any cleaning products. Even a very small amount can get you very sick and possibly even kill you.
Lysol’s manufacturer issued a statement clarifying that its products should never be administered into the human body.
Still, there was a reported uptick in calls in places like Maryland and Illinois about people ingesting disinfectants to try and kill the virus.
This is dangerous. It won’t work, and it could get you really sick.
So let me repeat it once more. Don’t drink any cleaning products.
Listener: Can I get the coronavirus through drinking regular tap water or in a swimming pool?
Gupta: Well, a little bit of good news here. You don’t need to worry about getting Covid-19 in your tap water. According to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], most municipal drinking water systems should remove or inactivate the virus.
As for swimming pools, there’s no evidence that the virus can be spread through the water in pools, hot tubs or water play areas. Proper maintenance along with the use of disinfection agents should inactivate the virus in the water.
But that doesn’t mean pools may not be shut down in certain areas this summer. Health officials advise staying at least 6 feet away from others because the virus is a respiratory disease. In other words, you probably won’t get the coronavirus from the water, but you could get it from someone close to you in the water.
Number four: The novel coronavirus is no worse than the flu.
Two doctors in Bakersfield, California recently held a press conference to declare just that.
Dr. Dan Erickson: Is the flu less dangerous than Covid? Let’s look at the death rates. No, it’s not. They’re similar in prevalance and in death rate. So we are saying that our response now, now that we know the facts, it’s time to get back to work.
Gupta: That was Dr. Dan Erickson. He and another doctor came under fire for downplaying Covid-19.
In fact, the American College of Emergency Physicians called the claims reckless, untested and inconsistent with any current science or epidemiology regarding Covid-19.
It is true that there are similarities, but Dr. Anthony Fauci [director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases], for example, has warned that coronavirus could be 10 times more lethal than the flu.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind. Flu can be very deadly. About 0.1% of people who become infected with the flu will die from it.
In any given year, 30 million people to 40 million people may become infected. And that means 30,000 to 40,000 people will die.
But here’s some big differences. First of all, the flu’s been around for a while. So if you’ve been around on this planet for a while, you probably have some immunity to it, even if the flu virus changes a bit season to season.
And finally, there is a vaccine for the flu. Now, the vaccine may not protect you entirely. But it could shorten the duration if you get it.
By the way, that doctor’s video, which has been shared on YouTube, has since been taken down for violating the platform’s policy on misinformation.
Number five: 5G networks are spreading the virus.
Donie O’Sullivan, CNN “New Day” reporter: Conspiracy theorists, now again using no actual facts or reliable information, are linking 5G to the spread of the coronavirus.
Gupta: There are a lot of baseless conspiracy theories floating around the internet about the origins of the virus and how it spreads — this is one of them.
A hoax started in the fringes of the internet suggested that 5G — that’s the ultra-fast wireless technology — is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus.
Regardless of what you might think about wireless technology, there is no connection between that sort of technology and a highly transmissible virus.
Still, some celebrities shared these claims to their millions of followers on social media.
In April, there were reports that people actually tried to burn down cell phone towers in the U.K. Officials were concerned that this was motivated by these conspiracy theories.
I want you to listen to how Dr. Fauci responded when asked about this in a Snapchat interview:
Dr. Anthony Fauci: That’s thoroughly preposterous. Untrue. And actually ridiculous. 5G doesn’t impact on the immune system.
Gupta: Number six: Can I give the coronavirus to my pets? Can I get it from them?
Listener: If the virus started in animals, could they be even more susceptible to the virus than we are?
Gupta: The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, on this one. It looks like pets, especially cats and dogs, can contract Covid-19. At least two cats and a dog have tested positive in the United States. We are learning they can get it from humans, and in rare situations, pass it on to other pets.
The CDC recommends treating your pets as you would other human family members — that means you don’t let them interact with others outside the home.
Some lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo also tested positive for the virus. The zoo says a staff member likely infected the cats.
But as things stand now, currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading Covid-19 in humans.
We’ll keep talking about this because the bottom line is there’s a lot of useful information on the internet. But some of it is wrong, and some of it can be dangerous.
We are learning more every day about the coronavirus, especially about symptoms and prevention and treatment.
I suggest you try and do what I do. Always check your sources. Be really diligent about this, and see who else can corroborate something that you might be hearing. Health professionals are always going to be a good source, but again, we are all learning together.
We’ll be back tomorrow. Thanks for listening.