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The panic quickly followed the pandemic, and grew alongside it. The general confusion at hand has made for a perfect environment for fraudsters and conspiracy-peddlers to thrive. As a result, useful and necessary information is sometimes drowned out, in a cesspool of disinformation. Here is a quick rundown of what has been established so far, and what can be disregarded as white noise.
Conspiracy theories have been rampant, with a boost after 9-11, and can sometimes range way into the stratosphere. Coronavirus was not spared and was quickly picked up by conspiracy theorists.
No, there is no cure for coronavirus, so far
This claim was the most predictable one, from the onset of the crisis. It was carved in stone that, quickly enough, peddlers would sense the opportunity to sell “magic remedies” to weary populations, in a quest for an easy buck. Various governments have already implemented measures to prevent such illicit business endeavors, but online marketplaces see to it that quack panaceas can still be found online.
In Peru, a curandero claiming to have “a pact with the devil” promised to treat coronavirus, among other ailments. On Craigslist, a now-removed post claimed, “I think I found how to prevent coronavirus … from my grandmother’s herbal remedy recipe card.”
And a televangelist recently promoted his “Silver Solution” on his show, suggesting the concoction would boost the immune system and kill the virus within 12 hours. No doubt, when an actual cure is found, government and health organizations will make it known to the general public.
No, cash payments will not spread the virus
Early statements by the World Health Organization were initially misinterpreted, that cash payments could favor the spread of the virus. These concerns have since been put to rest, after many scientists and specialists investigated the matter, and came to the unanimous conclusion that cash payments were less likely, not more likely, to spread the virus. Health specialist Cory Stieg writes,
“Despite reports that the World Health Organization was pushing people to use contactless payments, a spokesperson for the WHO tells CNBC Make It it has not issued any warnings or statements about the use of cash. Instead, it reiterated that you should wash your hands, including after handling money, especially if you’re eating or touching food. For starters, COVID-19 doesn’t spread by penetrating the skin on your hands, Michael Knight, assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.”
However, a few residual internet postings still are out there, and haven’t been corrected yet. A simple look at the publication date of the article will clear things up. The same recommendations that have always been – of washing one’s hands after handling anything – simply still apply.
No, the virus was not engineered to promote vaccine sales
This point has virtually been established as moot (see above), since there is no vaccine or cure for the virus, as of yet. In addition to this rumor’s lack of credibility, vaccines are traditionally a very poor way for pharmaceutical companies to make money. Vaccination treatments are bought in bulk, by large organizations, and prices are negotiated to the maximum. The Economist wrote,
“[For] decades vaccines were a neglected corner of the drugs business, with old technology, little investment and abysmal profit margins. Many firms sold their vaccine divisions to concentrate on more profitable drugs.”
Cures are far more profitable, as patients already suffering from an illness will logically spend far more to be cured than to protect themselves against an illness they may never have.
No, African genetics do not make someone immune to coronavirus
The claim appeared as early as January 2020, that Africans, and people with African ancestry, were immune to Covid-19. These claims were quickly refuted by the World Health Organization and local officials. They stemmed from the observation that African countries were slower to report an increase in positive cases than many Western countries – though this was probably linked to smaller statistic-producing abilities. If any shred of truth can be lent to these allegations, it would be because previous pandemics, far more serious than Covid-19, have strengthened the immune system of large shares of the population already.
The crisis has set in as a long-lasting one, which implies that numerous other false claims will appear in coming weeks and months. As scientists and health organizations study the virus, however, this also means that more and more reliable data will become available, including online. Carefully sourcing articles, and selecting only those from reliable and pre-established institutions, such as the World Health Organization, will keep readers safe.
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