Social media posts attribute a list of points about the novel coronavirus to Johns Hopkins, a leading source of information on the virus. But the US universitys medical program said it is not the source of the claims, and while some are accurate, experts say others contain false or misleading information.
EYE-OPENING KNOWLEDGE FROM John Hopkins University, says one of the posts, variations of which have circulated on Facebook since at least March 23, 2020.
Others attribute the claims to Irene Ken, a physician whose daughter is an Asst. Prof in Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins University, or to a Prof in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, or to John Hopkins Hospital.
The points also appear on Reddit here and here, while versions have been posted on Instagram here, here and here.
Johns Hopkins is tracking the spread of COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the novel coronavirus -- providing statistics on deaths and infections as well as other information for both policymakers and the public, meaning its name lends authority to those who cite it.
But Johns Hopkins Medicine said it is not affiliated with the points circulating online, posting on its Facebook page that rumors and misinformation like this can easily circulate in communities during a crisis.
The rumors that we have seen in greater volumes are those citing a Johns Hopkins immunologist and infectious disease expert. We do not know the origin of these rumors and they lack credibility, it said.
And "we have no information" on whether Irene Ken or her daughter exist, a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins Medicine said.
Some of the points themselves are also problematic. AFP Fact Check breaks them down below.
Claim: The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code. (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.
Several parts of this description are false, experts say.
The coronavirus arrives as an RNA molecule that comes wrapped in lipid and protein -- the first point is complete nonsense as written, Dr. Benjamin Neuman, an expert in coronaviruses who chairs the Biological Sciences department at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, told AFP by email.
There are no aggressor or multiplier cells -- not sure what that might even be referring to, he said.
Dr. Julian Leibowitz, an expert in coronaviruses who is a professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology at Texas A&M's College of Medicine, agreed.
This is not true on many levels. The virus is an RNA virus, it contains no DNA, and its RNA genome is encased in a protein and is then enveloped by a lipid bilayer that contains several viral proteins, he said by email.
When the virus infects cells the virus RNA expresses its genes, it does NOT mutate the genes of the host to convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells, Leibowitz said.
Claim: Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
This point is accurate, according to Dr. Wendy Keitel, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.
As mentioned, the decay or loss of the viruses ability to infect does depend on temperature, humidity and the type of material where it lies, she said by email.
Claim: The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam). By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
Some viruses are very fragile; others are not fragile at all, said Keitel, with coronaviruses being significantly less stable than smallpox, for example.
Soap or detergent is a very effective way to help remove viruses from hands, she said, but while the detergent is important for removing soil and may have some effect on inactivation of the virus, the major effects are friction (rubbing the surfaces) and rinsing off the viruses.
Claim: HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 77 degrees Fahrenheit for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
This point is misleading; while the virus is sensitive to heat, Keitel said that it is likely that a temperature high enough to inactivate coronavirus would be too hot for handwashing.
Hands can be washed in warm or cold water as long as the use of soap and the duration of cleansing is at least 20 seconds, she said.
Neumen said that there are proteins in the coronavirus that do indeed denature with heat, but the virus is used to growing in human lungs and intestines, and it is stable up to temperatures a little above 100 degrees F.
He also highlighted issues with the points information about heat melting fat.
There are fats that melt at different temperatures -- for example, bacteria that live in methane ice and bacteria that live on the rims of... deep ocean volcanoes both have membranes made of lipid molecules (what this person is calling fat), but they have very different melting points, Neuman said.
Claim: Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
This is not too far off from reality, Neuman said.
Keitel agreed: Alcohol is believed to destroy the essential viral proteins and may disrupt the lipid (fatty) layer that is part of the coat.
Claim: Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.
This is true, but excessive, according to Neuman.
A standard store-bought hypochlorite bleach will indeed kill the virus, but it works at half the specified concentration, he said.
Claim: Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it hurts your skin.
This is false.
The amount of oxygen dissolved in water would have very little effect on the virus. This suggests some kind of sham medical product to oxygenate water for health benefits, Neuman said.
Leibowitz agreed: Oxygenated water does not generate hydrogen peroxide and alcohol kills the virus after one minute of exposure.
Claim: NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC WORKS. The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibiotics cannot kill what is not alive.
This is true, unless it is a product also aimed at viruses.
Many products are both bactericidal and virucidal (destroying both, physically), but it is correct that a specific bactericide would not be effective, according to Neuman.
Antibiotics generally do not inactivate viruses; hence, treatment of a viral infection with a common antibiotic would not be expected to inactivate the virus, and it could cause harmful side effects, Keitel said, while also noting that a number of disinfecting chemicals have both antibacterial and antiviral activities.
Claim: NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While the virus is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates between 3 hours (fabric and porous), 4 hours (copper and wood), 24 hours (cardboard), 42 hours (metal) and 72 hours (plastic). But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.
The recommendation is accurateif the items in question are contaminated with the virus.
The current public health recommendations at this time are to avoid shaking contaminated materials due to the theoretical possibility that the contaminated surfaces could release infectious material, said Keitel.
If your feather duster is covered in large amounts of SARS-CoV-2, then I would agree -- don't shake it. Otherwise, it's fine to dust as usual, Neuman said, using the official name for the novel coronavirus.
And Leibowitz said that the numbers mentioned in this point are not quite right.
The virus can survive for at least 8 days on metal (steel) or hard plastic at room temperature but the relative survival on cardboard, paper, or fabric is relatively short and about 3 hours is the number I have seen, he said.
Claim: The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars. It also needs moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
Neuman said the virus does not do well in any of the environments mentioned.
It remains stable almost indefinitely in a specialized -80 degree Celsius freezer, but tends to fall apart eventually at any higher temperature including a regular -20 degree Celsius home freezer, he said.
And according to Leibowitz, the relationship between humidity and virus survival shows that it is less stable at both high and very low humidity but it was most stable at 20% humidity, which is actually pretty low. Cold increases survival time.
Claim: UV LIGHT on any object that may contain it and break down the virus protein. For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is perfect. Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin.
UV light can inactivate viruses, but Keitel said it is not recommended for the general public to use this method.
At this time it is not recommended for non-medical personnel to attempt to use UV light to inactivate viruses for the purpose of disinfection of face masks. Cloth masks should be washed frequently in hot soapy water and dried in a drier, Keitel said.
As for the effect of UV on the virus, Neuman said that it crosslinks nucleotides in the virus RNA -- it can damage protein as well, but that is the mechanism of inactivation.
Keitel said that UV light has multiple potential ways of inactivating viruses, including effects on the proteins and on the genetic material.
AFP Fact Check has addressed the topic of using UV light against the novel coronavirus here.
Claim: The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.
This is true but the reasoning is off, according to Neuman. There aren't any cells with the viral receptor in skin, healthy or unhealthy, so it would not be able to infect.
Keitel said that at this time there is no evidence that this coronavirus can go through healthy skin, and that injury to the skin is required in order for many viruses to gain entry through the skin.
Claim: Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
It is accurate that vinegar is not recommended, but that this is because there is no data to support the claim that it works, and it can be harmful to surfaces, Keitel said.
Claim: NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, work. The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%. Edit: there are a few alcohols more than 65%, and Vodka does come in 50%, but still not strong enough to kill the virus.
This is generally correct, but there is at least one vodka that is 96% ethanol, and would be OK, according to Neuman.
The use of spirits for disinfection is not recommended and has not been studied. Consumption of alcohol for this purpose is discouraged, Keitel said.
Claim: LISTERINE WORKS! It is 65% alcohol.
This is false: Listerine is only 27% ethanol, and would not work reliably, Neuman said.
First, it has not been tested against the coronavirus. Second, not all Listerine contains alcohol. Third, the alcohol content does not exceed about 20%, significantly lower than the recommended concentration for disinfection purposes, said Keitel.
And Listerine does not contact all surfaces where the virus may be located (e.g., nasal, lower respiratory tract), she said.
Claim: The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.
This is true, but distance between individuals is much more important. The virus spreads mostly by small droplets (about 10 microns diameter) generated from coughs and sneezes and they do not stay in the air very long and mostly settle out of the air after traveling less than 6 feet, said Leibowitz.
Neuman said: The size of the space doesn't matter so much -- it is a case of whether the virus is in it. Most buildings would have HEPA-filtered air, which is designed to catch coronavirus-sized particles and remove them from what we breathe.
Claim: You have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. And when using the bathroom.
This is a harmless and a reasonable idea, Neuman said, while Keitel said that it is recommended to do so after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.
Claim: You have to Moisturize dry hands from so much washing them, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
According to Neuman, you most certainly do not have to moisturize, but if you find it more comfortable, you can. It has no bearing on the virus, and is certainly not protective in the way mentioned here.
And Leibowitz said that you may want to moisturize your hands from lots of hand washing but the virus doesnt hide in the cracks.
Claim: Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.
This is not a game of peek-a-boo -- you are unlikely to get respiratory droplets under your fingernails, and even if you did, the virus is unlikely to go from under your fingernails onto your mucosal membranes, Neuman said.
Leibowitz agreed, saying: This virus is spread by the respiratory route and nail length has nothing to do with this.
AFP Fact Check has debunked more than 350 examples of false or misleading information about the novel coronavirus crisis. A complete list of our fact checks on the topic in English can be found here.
See the article here:
- Atsena Therapeutics Raises $55 Million Series A Financing to Advance LCA1 Gene Therapy Clinical Program, Two Preclinical Assets, and Novel Capsid... - December 17th, 2020
- Locanabio Announces $100 Million Series B Financing to Advance Portfolio of Novel RNA-Targeted Gene Therapies for Neurodegenerative, Neuromuscular and... - December 17th, 2020
- NeuBase Therapeutics Announces Positive Preclinical In Vivo Data for PATrOL-enabled Anti-gene for the Treatment of Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 -... - December 17th, 2020
- Genetic Analysis Services Market: Uptake of Next-generation Sequencing and Multi-gene Tests to Drive Market - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- FDA Clears Genetic Modification in Pigs for Biomedicine and Food - The Scientist - December 17th, 2020
- Key Genes Related to Severe COVID-19 Infection Identified - The Scientist - December 17th, 2020
- UNLV Researcher on the Curious Case of COVID-19 Reinfection - UNLV NewsCenter - December 17th, 2020
- Genomics and medicine it's complicated | Health | willistonherald.com - Williston Daily Herald - December 17th, 2020
- Emedgene collaborates with Illumina to scale the interpretation of genomic data for rare diseases - PRNewswire - December 17th, 2020
- Polymerase Chain Reaction Market | Increased Outbreak of Infectious Diseases to Accentuate Demand in the Market - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- LogicBio Therapeutics names Daphne Karydas and Jeff Goater to Board of Directors - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- rBIO Achieves Crucial Milestone on Mission to Lower the Cost of Insulin by 30% - BioSpace - December 17th, 2020
- Report: More than 1,300 Medicines and Vaccines in Development to Help Fight Cancer - PRNewswire - December 17th, 2020
- San Diego's Locanabio raises $100 million for treatments aimed at degenerative diseases - The San Diego Union-Tribune - December 17th, 2020
- Worldwide SNP Genotyping Industry to 2025 - Pharmacogenomics Led the End-user Segment of the SNP Genotyping Market - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business... - December 17th, 2020
- Potential Weakness in SARS-CoV-2 Discovered Single Protein Needed for COVID-19 Virus to Reproduce and Spread - SciTechDaily - December 17th, 2020
- Landing of $75M expansion of Texas-based Taysha adds to Triangle's growing gene therapy hub - WRAL Tech Wire - December 17th, 2020
- Track the Vax: What Do We Need to Know About the New Vaccines? - Everyday Health - December 17th, 2020
- Medical history from the year you were born - Quad City Times - December 5th, 2020
- Sarepta Therapeutics to Share Clinical Update for SRP-5051, its Investigational PPMO for the Treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- Biochip Market | Increased Popularity of Personalized Medicine to Boost the Market Growth | Technavio - Business Wire - December 5th, 2020
- December: Baby birth weight research | News and features - University of Bristol - December 5th, 2020
- Global Next Generation Sequencing Market (2020 to 2026) - Growth, Trends, Competitive Landscape, and Forecasts - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- NIH researchers link cases of ALS and FTD to a mutation associated with Huntington's disease - National Institute on Aging - December 5th, 2020
- Precision Medicine Market Poised to Grow at 11.5% By 20227 - GlobeNewswire - December 5th, 2020
- Fact check: mRNA vaccines kept at very cold temperatures so that they do not break apart; COVID-19 vaccines will not genetically modify humans -... - December 5th, 2020
- Stoke Therapeutics Announces Presentations Related to the Company's Work to Advance STK-001, the First Potential New Medicine to Target the Underlying... - December 5th, 2020
- King George III's illness debunked as symptom 'caused by medicine prescribed to him' - Express - December 5th, 2020
- Stoke Therapeutics to Present at the Needham Virtual Epilepsy & Pain Specialty CNS Therapeutics Conference - Business Wire - December 5th, 2020
- Following the science: the writers who have made sense of Covid - The Guardian - December 5th, 2020
- Gene experts claim they identified human genes that can protect against Covid-19 - CNBC - November 23rd, 2020
- Genome Medical Reaches 90 Million Covered Lives in US - PRNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Sarepta Therapeutics Named One of The Boston Globe's Top Places to Work 2020 - GlobeNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- New Study Highlights the Importance of Genetic Testing for Pancreatic Cancer Patients - PRNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Baylor Genetics Launches Combination Test for COVID-19 and Influenza A and B; Multi-Panel Test Seeks to Address Dilemma of "Overlapping symptoms... - November 23rd, 2020
- CHOP Researchers Reverse Severe Lymphatic Disorder in Patient with Noonan Syndrome by Targeting Genetic Pathway - BioSpace - November 23rd, 2020
- Myriad Genetics Announces Global Expansion of Myriad myChoice Tumor Testing in Europe and China - GlobeNewswire - November 23rd, 2020
- Epigenetics and pulmonary diseases in the horizon of precision medicine: a review - DocWire News - November 23rd, 2020
- Four years after landing in US, graduating ISU senior is on his way to medical school - Iowa State University News Service - November 23rd, 2020
- Lethal brain infections in mice thwarted by decoy molecule - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - November 23rd, 2020
- Reducing barriers to mainstream gene therapy - BioPharma-Reporter.com - September 4th, 2020
- Mapping Genetic Diversity of Lung Tumors Over Time May Lead to More Effective Therapies - UCSF News Services - September 4th, 2020
- Multi-site study to evaluate the role of testing guidelines in ensuring access to genetic information for men with prostate cancer - PRNewswire - September 4th, 2020
- Global Prime Editing Market to Witness Heightened Growth During the Period 2020 2030 - The Daily Chronicle - September 4th, 2020
- Liquid biopsies to disrupt the oncology testing market - Medical Device Network - September 4th, 2020
- Global RNA-interference (RNAi) Market Growth, Trends and Forecasts to 2025: Focus on Key Players Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Arrowhead, Quark... - September 4th, 2020
- Yale researchers find a cause and possible treatment for Fragile X - Yale News - September 4th, 2020
- 'Coming into their own': FDA approval of liquid biopsy tests puts early, less invasive cancer detection in broader reach - USA TODAY - September 4th, 2020
- Fusion Genes Associated With More Aggressive Papillary Thyroid Cancer in Pediatric Patients - Targeted Oncology - September 4th, 2020
- Existing Class of Drugs May Improve Neurological Function in Patients with Rare, Aggressive Genetic Disorder - Newswise - September 4th, 2020
- Genomic analysis reveals insights on virulent, emerging foodborne pathogen - UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff - University at Buffalo... - September 4th, 2020
- Hyperthyroidism is associated with breast cancer risk and mammographic and genetic risk predictors - 2 Minute Medicine - September 4th, 2020
- Health history platform launches to trace genetic conditions | Digital Healthcare - Healthcare Global - Healthcare News, Magazine and Website - September 4th, 2020
- New HIV Gene Therapy, CAR-T Treatments Could be on the Horizon for Patients - BioSpace - September 4th, 2020
- Cell Suicide Gene Further Linked to Immunotherapy Response - Technology Networks - September 2nd, 2020
- Genetic mutations may be linked to infertility, early menopause - Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis - September 2nd, 2020
- How to use precision medicine to personalise COVID-19 treatment according to the patient's genes - Down To Earth Magazine - September 2nd, 2020
- UCT professors research offers hope of treatment for sickle cell anaemia - Daily Maverick - September 2nd, 2020
- Association of recent stressful life events with mental and physical health in the context of genomic and exposomic liability for schizophrenia - 2... - September 2nd, 2020
- Finding order in the chaos of cancer mutations - Drug Target Review - September 2nd, 2020
- Mustang Bio Announces Orphan Drug Designation for MB-107 for the Treatment of X-linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in Newly Diagnosed Infants -... - September 2nd, 2020
- Novavax Announces Publication of Phase 1 Data for COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in The New England Journal of Medicine - GlobeNewswire - September 2nd, 2020
- Department of Genetic Medicine | Johns Hopkins Medicine - August 10th, 2020
- Genetic Medicine | Internal Medicine | Michigan Medicine ... - August 10th, 2020
- Genetic Medicine | Department of Medicine - August 10th, 2020
- Genomics and Medicine - Genome.gov - August 10th, 2020
- New Approach to Treating Osteoarthritis Advances | NYU Langone News - NYU Langone Health - August 10th, 2020
- Stoke Therapeutics Reports Second Quarter Financial Results and Provides Business Updates - Business Wire - August 10th, 2020
- Here's Why Shares of Editas Medicine and Beam Therapeutics Are Soaring Today - Motley Fool - August 10th, 2020
- Grant will fund study into COVID outcome disparities in NYC - Cornell Chronicle - August 10th, 2020
- A versatile genetic control system in mammalian cells and mice responsive to clinically licensed sodium ferulate - Science Advances - August 10th, 2020
- Spark Therapeutics Deepens Drug Development Expertise in Hematology and Rare Disease with Appointment of Gallia G. Levy, MD, Ph.D., as Chief Medical... - August 10th, 2020
- Chromosomal Rearrangements Associated with Chemotherapeutic Drug Resistance | McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP - JD Supra - August 10th, 2020
- Jae Jung, Ph.D., Appointed as Chair of Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute's Department of Cancer Biology - Health Essentials from Cleveland... - August 10th, 2020
- The UK and TCELS to jointly support COVID-19 research in Thailand - GOV.UK - August 10th, 2020
- Akouos Announces Expansion of Executive Team and Board of Directors - BioSpace - August 10th, 2020
- Medical and neurobehavioural phenotypes in male and female carriers of Xp22.31 duplications in the UK Biobank. - Physician's Weekly - August 10th, 2020
- Coronavirus vaccine breakthrough: New generation cure that stops virus developed - Express - August 10th, 2020
- Global Cell and Gene Therapy Market, Forecast to 2025 by Product, Disease, End-user and Region - COVID-19 Updated - PRNewswire - August 10th, 2020
- Not Everyone Needs 8 Hours of Sleep, New Research Reveals | Time - TIME - August 10th, 2020