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The Novel Coronavirus: Facts and Fictions

May 26, 2020

The spread of the coronavirus has prompted an unprecedented response from all spheres of society. While growing concerns have allowed for a more effective implementation of social distancing measures, mounting disinformation puts people at risk of unwittingly becoming more exposed to the dangers of the pandemic. In this article, we review the facts and fictions regarding COVID-19, so that readers may be better informed and more aware of how to protect themselves.

Will the virus die off when it gets warmer?

There is no evidence that the spread of an airborne virus is retarded in warmer weather. While more people have a weaker immune system in colder weather, which means that the body is less able to defend itself against the virus, the chance of contracting COVID-19 remains the same regardless of season.

Does alcohol kill the coronavirus?

Alcohol is able kill a variety of pathogens, coronavirus included, only when the pathogens are outside of the body. This is why we thoroughly disinfect facilities a confirmed patient has visited, to prevent lingering pathogens from entering a healthy individual’s body. Once inside the body however, alcohol will not help. Do not, under any circumstances, ingest alcohol, chlorine or other disinfectants under the belief that it will cure the coronavirus, as these substances are toxic and will kill vital cells within your body. Do not apply these substances on the skin either. Washing your hands with soap is more than enough.

Can a person contract the coronavirus more than once?

Although this may be possible, it is highly unlikely. Your body has the ability to “remember” for the remainder of your life all the pathogens that made you sick. This is known as immunological memory. The cases you see on the news of people who had supposedly recovered from COVID-19 and contracted it again either did not make a full recovery, or had a cold and were falsely confirmed as positive for the coronavirus the first time.

Can my pet get the coronavirus?

If you’re the proud owner of a cat (or cats), take extra caution whenever you go outside for you may be able to spread the coronavirus to your furry friend. While not much is known regarding the susceptibility of animals to the coronavirus, at present it seems that cats are more likely than dogs to be infected by a human with the coronavirus. This does not mean that dogs are immune to the virus. Only a few days ago, a pair of Pomeranians in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus, which had been passed from their owner. The probability of pets spreading the coronavirus to people however, seems much lower.

Will a coronavirus vaccine be developed soon?

Research regarding COVID-19 is being conducted around the globe at a rapid pace, and there are a number of ongoing clinical trials, giving hope that there will soon be a cure for the coronavirus. However, clinical trials often span several years although it may be shortened in case of the present pandemic, and their success has always been an extreme rarity. While there is good reason to be optimistic about the future, being cautious remains the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At present, social distancing, masks, and good hygiene are the most effective ways you can keep yourself and your community safe.

Written by Cheesue Kim, SNU English Editor, cheesuerocket@gmail.com
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, tlsmith@snu.ac.kr

Cited Articles:
[1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3556998
[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/opinion/coronavirus-immunity.html
[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00984-8
[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00798-8