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Vitamin C and the flu shot: experts debunk myths about ways to protect against coronavirus

As coronavirus continues to spread throughout the globe, confusion and misconceptions about what can protect you become as contagious as the virus. Journalists of the publication The New York Times talked with doctors and infectious disease specialists about whether there is any truth in public beliefs.

Photo: Shutterstock

Hand Antiseptics May Help Protect You

May be. Dr. William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said hand sanitizers containing more than 60% alcohol are effective in killing viruses like coronavirus.

But no one knows for sure whether they will work with the current virus. Gels, such as Purell, can be especially useful for young children who may lack coordination to complete the full hand washing technique recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to vigorously wash both sides and between the fingers for at least 20 seconds.

But handwashing is still crucial and potentially more effective for protection, as it removes germs and dirt.

“It's not enough,” said Cody Meissner, M.D., chief of infectious diseases in children at Tufts University School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Infectious Diseases. - Antibacterial soap has no additional benefit. Just be careful and remember to wash your fingers. "

You must take vitamin C

Not. You may be tempted to take vitamin C or other supposedly immune-boosting supplements, but their effectiveness is a long-standing misconception. Even in cases of the common cold or flu, vitamin C has not been shown to be beneficial.

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“If there is any benefit, it will be very small,” said Dr. Schaffner. However, the extra vitamin C won't do you any harm “unless you just bottle it,” said Dr. Frank Esper, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Children's Hospital.

“Excess vitamin C can be harmful to the stomach and kidneys. There is no evidence that supplements such as zinc, green tea, and echinacea are helpful in preventing coronavirus, said Dr. Mark J. Mulligan, M.D., director of the infectious disease and vaccine center at Langone Medical Center in New York. "I don't recommend spending money on supplements for this purpose."

Everyone should wear masks.

US President Donald Trump announced on April 3, 2020 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all Americans wear “non-medical, fabric” masks in public places.

Previously, the CDC, like the World Health Organization, advised that people do not need to wear masks if they are not sick or care for someone who is sick. The researchers concluded that there are actually more cases of asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus than previously thought.

Health officials called for the retention of N95 masks for doctors and nurses who are in dire need of protective equipment.

Wear gloves when touching common surfaces such as elevator buttons

In fact, this does not need to be done. According to Dr. Esper, wearing gloves is "probably ineffective" to prevent the spread of the virus, "because in the end the gloves themselves become dirty." Dr. Meisner said most gloves have small holes.

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“Simple hand washing with soap and water is the most proven and most effective way,” Meisner said.

Get a flu shot

Yes, but not from coronavirus. On social media, you can find records claiming that flu shots help prevent coronavirus. Dr. Schaffner said that although the flu shot does not affect the coronavirus, we are still at the very end of the flu season.

According to Dr. Esper, getting a flu shot is “very useful” to ensure good overall health.

“You are much more likely to get the flu than the coronavirus,” Esper said.

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