Yes, SARS-CoV-2, is the official name of this form of Coronavirus. I think people don’t want to use the SARS term as it stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Scary right? Well, there are reasons to be afraid of this virus, but fear should be tempered with knowledge. So, here are myths busted and truths about this virus so you know what’s going on.
Myth: the rate of infection is low in the United States.
Truth: The data in the United States is skewed compared to other countries for a simple reason: as of 3 March we had only 43 reported cases which sounds good. But we’d only tested 500 people. The number of infected will go up precipitously as we test more people.
Myth: Standard surgical masks prevent you from getting the virus.
Truth: Standard surgical masks do not block viral particles or fit flush to the face. People who know or are afraid they are infected should wear masks, but then they should also be isolated, not out in public. Health care workers wear N95 respirators which do reduce the spread; but they are trained on them and they fit so that no air can get in around the edges, much like our gas masks in the army. Anyone who has ever entered the tear gas tent knows how important a proper seal is.
Myth: You’re more likely to get the flu.
Truth: The numbers are still coming in (note above about the skewed number in the US), but spread is calculated with a ‘basic reproduction number’. This is the number of people who can catch it from an infected individual. For flu this is 1.3. For Coronavirus it is 2.2. Higher.
Myth: If you getCOVID-19 you’ll die.
Truth: Not likely. Currently, the mortality rate is 2.3%. That number is full of people who already had respiratory problems and the elderly. 4.7% of people end up in critical condition. 13.8% have severe illness. And 81% have a mild case—but are contagious. This is the dangerous part.
Myth: Your dog can give it to you.
Truth: This is unlikely with no solid evidence to support. There was a case in China of a dog that got a low-level infection from its owner who had COVID-19. That means dogs can get it from people. But there is no evidence that the opposite is true.
Myth: If you’re infected, you’ll know it.
Truth: During the early stage of infection you’ll exhibit no symptoms (asymptomatic). This is what makes it so dangerous. There are people walking around who are asymptomatic. Which is why we need a test. As of Friday 6 March, the promised million kits have not been distributed. There have been 75,000 sent out.
Myth: SARS-CoV-2 is a form of the common cold.
Truth: Four other types of Coronaviruses do cause the common cold. But not this one. SARS-CoV-2 is a combination of several viruses. It’s a coronavirus in that it has spiky projections on its surface and uses those to infect the host. But while humans are hosts for those other four Coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 shares 90% of its genetic materials with bats, which indicates it most likely originated in bats and then jumped to humans.
Myth: I can get SARS-CoV-2 opening a package from China.
Truth: No, it won’t last that long in transit. I’ve explained how long SARS-CoV-2 can last on surfaces in another post. Conditions vary that but a package’s temperature in transit, lack of UV exposure and humidity all make that unlikely. There are no known cases of this.
Myth: You can get SARS-CoV-2 from a Chinese restaurant.
Truth: No. Nor can you get it from drinking Corona beer, even though 1/3rd of beer drinkers surveyed said they were afraid of that.
And that brings us to the point: know the truth. Take the proper precautions. Primarily washing hands and avoiding hand to face unless you have clean hands. There are more in other posts and in a special Appendix added to The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide.