Dr. Leana Wen busts the 5 biggest myths about coronavirus

Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with the emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore about some of the biggest misconceptions about the virus.
Image: Women wearing masks in New York's Times Square on April 9, 2020.
Women wearing masks in New York's Times Square on April 9, 2020.Mark Lennihan / AP file

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By Know Your Value staff

Just as quickly as coronavirus has spread, so too have the falsehoods about the virus and what you can do to protect yourself.

That’s why Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore about some of the biggest myths about the pandemic. Dr. Wen has been a leading voice in public health and a frequent commentator about coronavirus.

Below, is her advice. Of course, you should always consult your personal physician before starting any treatment.

Myth #1: It's like the flu.

The truth: Some of the symptoms may be like the flu, but it is many times more deadly, said Dr. Wen. “New research shows that COVID-19 doesn't just affect the lungs and the respiratory system. It also affects the heart, kidneys, the nervous system and many other body systems. There is even a new syndrome that's just been identified that affects children involving inflammation of blood vessels. We need to take COVID-19 very seriously,” she said.

Myth #2: We don't need to wear masks.

The truth: Dr. Wen noted that masks have been shown to reduce COVID-19 transmission by as much as 90 percent. “This works if all of us wear masks. It shows respect for one another: you wear a mask to protect me, and I wear a mask to protect you,” she added.

Myth #3: I'm young and healthy, it doesn't affect me.

The truth: Actually, young people have gotten very sick from COVID-19, said Dr. Wen. “Otherwise healthy adults in their 30s and 40s have had debilitating strokes that leave them unable to speak. Children and teens are in ICUs and have even died. No one is immune from COVID-19. Older people are more likely to get severely ill, and everyone should do their part to protect themselves and others too,” advised Dr. Wen.

Myth #4: Reopening means that I can go about my usual business.

The truth: “It doesn't. The virus hasn't changed,” noted Dr. Wen. “It's still just as infectious as before. In fact, reopening means more virus will be circulating, and you should do even more to prevent your risk of contracting COVID-19. Keep up physical distancing. Wear a mask. Use good hand hygiene.”

Myth #5: I got the antibody test, and I have the antibody. That means I'm protected.

The truth: “Antibody tests could be inaccurate up to 50 percent of the time, which is basically a coin flip,” said Dr. Wen. “We also don't know if antibody means immunity, that you are protected from getting coronavirus again. The test could improve over time, but for now, it's important not to misunderstand the result and get false reassurance.”