Is it the ambiguous belief that certain powerful persons, institutions, government or even evil forces are secretly behind the presence of the COVID-19? How about an alleged undisclosed plot by groups to use the Coronavirus to manipulate the political process or target people for political or financial reasons? I believe you are not unaware of the claims that the Coronavirus was artificially manufactured in the laboratory to depopulate the world. Is the fallacy, that the spread of the COVID-19 virus was intentionally uncontrolled, especially to harm many people, new to your ears? The introduction of the 5G mobile network provides a perfect ground to allegedly link the COVID-19 to the new network. The conspiracy theories and myths go on. So has the state of fear and uncertainties become our present order of the day. Arguably, when the world suddenly finds an impromptu deadly Coronavirus in its midst, it wakes up to the new reality that one’s life, thinking faculty and the worldviews can be altered unimaginably, as far as the uninvited COVID-19 remains with us.
Often, suspicion gives rise to conspiracy theories, with ‘evidence’ forced as a foundation as well as validation for the theory. Soon the conspiracy theories gain currency and become difficult to refute. For any conspiracy theory to hold ground or be believed, there must be ‘evidence’ that seems to validate the theory; after all, nothing, many believe, happens by accident. That breeds fertile ground for an alleged secret plot and conspirators; it equally divides the world into two camps – the good and bad groups. In times of uncertainty, fear and suspicion, the need for clarity and ability to restore sanity become desperately important – as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic causing unimaginable havoc and deaths globally.
The question is where does one draw a line between falsehood and truth; between logical thinking and paranoid delusions? A closer look at certain conspiracy theories and myths about the COVID-19 pandemic shows that the beliefs are hardly backed up by solid (scientific) evidence. Yet some individuals are so strongly passionate with their beliefs that you hardly can convince them otherwise. Unfortunately, the longer people believe in conspiracy theories and myths about the Coronavirus, the more difficult it takes to curb or curtail the infections and deaths from the virus.
Let us take a look at some conspiracy theories and myths surrounding the COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a laboratory-made:
Scientific evidence has shown that the Coronavirus generally originated from animals, although the animal source is yet to be confirmed. There is no evidence to prove that the virus was manufactured in a laboratory and spread across the world to kill a certain group of people, as some alleged.
Secret force and foreign power are behind the COVID-19:
According to a global study carried out by Gallup International, March 2020 in 28 countries, at least 3 out of 10 people surveyed linked the spread of COVID-19 to a foreign power or another force. This hardly helps various governments’ effort to execute necessary measures to curb the pandemic.
Using the COVID-19 vaccine to inject substances in the body and control victims:
Another common conspiracy theory is that governments and powerful individuals, mostly from the West, are using the development of the COVID-19 vaccine to systematically inject substances in the body of the victims. Allegedly, once the substance is injected in the body of the victims, governments can monitor their activities as well as control them. This unproven theory which is so popular amongst the third world perhaps explains why many people in Africa are sceptical about participating in the vaccine trial.
Vaccines and cures intentionally withheld:
We are in a world where conspiracy theories have given room to the division of the world into two camps – the good and bad groups – and the creation of a victim/victimizer mentality. It is, therefore, not uncommon for individuals to claim that vaccines and cures for the Coronavirus are intentionally withheld by the bad camp to perpetuate maximum harm on victims (good / victimized).
5G mobile network causes the Coronavirus:
There is no scientific evidence linking the introduction of the 5G mobile network to the Coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. Clearly, this conspiracy theory does not explain why the COVID-19 is spreading and causing devastations even in (poor) countries without the 5G mobile network.
Sanitary measures intended to harm or control society:
Contrary to enough medical evidence, some individuals claim that certain sanitary measures such as vaccines and masks introduced to curb the spread of the virus are intended to intentionally harm or control society. Such a claim makes it difficult for some people to heed to the advice of the health experts. The result: more infections, more deaths.
Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine can treat Coronavirus:
While many medical experts, including the World Health organisation, warn that neither hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine can treat the COVID-19, some individuals, including the USA President Donald Trump, would want you to believe otherwise. Current medical results show that the medicines used for the treatment for malaria, lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis, do not reduce deaths among hospitalised COVID-19 patients, nor do they help people with moderate disease. That brings one to the obvious reality that the world is yet to produce any approved or licenced medicine against the Coronavirus.
Ultraviolet (UV) lamps can be used as a disinfectant:
There is no medical study to support the above myth. Medical experts have strongly warned that UV should not be used as a disinfectant for hands or other parts of the body because it cannot only cause skin irritation, it can equally damage one’s eyes. The COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected. These droplets can be contracted when the infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes. Furthermore, infections occur through touching of infected surface and then one’s mouth, eyes or nose. Rather than using ultraviolet lamps, washing of one’s hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub is the most effective ways to remove the Coronavirus from your hand. Apart from the washing of your hands regularly and thoroughly, maintain a minimum distance of 1 metre away from others.
Eating of garlic halts the spread of the Coronavirus:
While garlic is a healthy food, which may contain antimicrobial elements, there is little or no evidence that eating garlic can prevent people from contacting the coronavirus.
Hot peppers kill the Coronavirus:
Another myth and misconception about the COVID-19 are that eating many peppers can protect you from the virus or cure the disease. There is no medical evidence to support the theory. Of course, maintenance of a balanced diet and regular exercises, adequate sleep and staying well hydrated, help your body to fight against sickness
Exposure to the sun reduces chances of the Coronavirus infection:
Even in the Gulf-countries and deserts where the temperatures can go up to almost 45 degrees centigrade, we still have cases of the COVID-19. So, basking yourself in the sun will not prevent you from contracting the virus.
Cold weather and snow kill the COVID-19 virus
While the western world is cautiously preparing and fearing for the second wave of the COVID-19 virus in the winter, some individuals strongly believe the virus cannot survive under the harsh cold weather. Whether during cold or warm weather, the best way to prevent yourself from contracting the COVID-19 virus is to take basic precautions mentioned above.
COVID-19 can only infect older people:
Some people have used this myth to argue for the opening of schools. Medically speaking, the COVID-19 can infect people of all ages, races, religion, both genders. Of course, older people or people with medical or health challenges such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes are more vulnerable to the virus than younger and healthier people.
The COVID-19 virus can be spread through mosquito bites
Mosquitoes are not prevalent in the Western world, yet this region of the world has many cases of COVID-19. On the other hand, the African continent, the epi-centre of mosquitoes has so far recorded much fewer cases of the virus. No medical result is yet to support the notion that mosquitoes can transmit the COVID-19 virus, which is a respiratory virus, transmitted through droplets from an infected person.
Often, conspiracy theories and myths blossom out of fear, unfamiliarity, strangeness, uncertainties. Those conditions carefully define the COVID-19 virus and people’s attitude towards it. It does not help in a situation where lack of transparency seems to be the order of the day. Any country that is allergic to transparency creates room for conspiracies. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and its high level of infections and deaths, coupled with the government’s seeming inability to put the deadly virus under control, all provide fertile ground for conspiracy theories and myths about COVID-19 to thrive. However, having in mind that human beings are by nature epitome of curiosity, which gives room for briefs, it becomes a bit difficult to draw a clear line between misconception and paranoid delusions. A good reason not to underestimate how deeply we have been enmeshed into the COVID-19 pandemic and how far it has blurred our world.