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Episode #3 - COVID-19 Myths Vs Science 

9 September 2020 | Science conversation

Summary

Can COVID -19 be transmitted through water? Or Mosquitoes? Is COVID-19 transmission affected by weather? Dr Sylvie Briand busts popular myths about COVID-19 in this edition of Science in 5, WHO’s conversations in science. 

Podcast

Transcript

Transcript

Vismita: 
Hello and welcome to Science in 5. I’m Vismita Gupta-Smith. This is WHO's conversations in science. And today we're talking to Dr Sylvie Briand. She’s the Director of the Department of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness. Sylvie's team tracks several dangerous and infectious pathogens around the globe. Welcome, Sylvie. 

Sylvie:
Hello.

Vismita:
Sylvie, we’re going to talk today about myths and science. Many of these myths and misinformation have been circulating along with the COVID-19 around the globe and some of these questions that we're going to talk about today are actually sourced from Google’s most searched questions. So, let's get started first with the one about weather. So, we hear again and again, different versions of this myth that the weather affects the transmission of this virus; that if the weather changes just from warm to cold, or from cold to warm, that transmission would change. Is that a myth or a fact? 

Sylvie:
What we have seen, so far, is that some countries with hot climate have had outbreaks, but similarly countries with a cold climate also have outbreaks. So it seems that the weather doesn't affect significantly the COVID-19 transmission. However, what we know now: there is a specific settings and circumstances that affect the disease transmission. And for instance, if you are a long time in a crowded, closed space with limited ventilation, there is more risk to have COVID-19 transmission. And this is sometime what happens in winter. Because it's cold outside, people tend to stay inside in places that are poorly ventilated, closed and sometimes crowded.

Vismita:
Let’s say I'm infected with COVID-19, if I get into a pool, can I transmit it to others? Can water transmit this virus? 

Sylvie:
So water cannot transmit COVID-19. Drinking water is not transmitting COVID-19. And, if you swim in a swimming pool or in a pond, you cannot get COVID-19 through water. But what can happen, if you go to a swimming pool, which is crowded and if you are close to other the people and if someone is infected, then you can be of course affected. So, that's why even in swimming pools, it's important to maintain physical distancing. 

Vismita:
Another one. This one is from Google’s most searched questions: Can mosquitoes transmit COVID-19? 

Sylvie:
Mosquitoes cannot transmit COVID-19. Although we know that some viruses like Zika, Chikungunya, yellow fever, or dengue can be transmitted through mosquitoes. But COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes. 

Vismita:
Sylvie, there's so much misinformation out there and a lot of information is pushed to each one of us, it's hard to distinguish the good from the bad. How can people know when information is to be trusted? 

Sylvie:
This is a phenomenon we see with each epidemic. There is an infodemic, which is the overabundance of information, good or bad, but that makes it difficult for people to differentiate what is good information from what is bad information or useless information.And then people feel confused and sometimes it increases their fear and anxiety of the disease. So, it's very important during an epidemic to manage this infodemic and everybody can contribute to this. First of all, people need to look at trusted sources of information. Sources of information like the WHO, for instance, or other technical agencies, because we spend a lot of time to verify information. And the second thing that is very important, in addition to going to trusted sources of information, is that everybody needs to be very careful when we spread information through social media or when we discuss with neighbours or friends, when you have an information that you are not very sure about, please verify it before spreading it. And like that we will all be infodemic managers and we will reduce the spread of misinformation and disinformation. 

Vimista:
Thank you, Sylvie, for busting these popular myths for us. That wraps up Science in 5 today. 
Come back next time for another Science in 5, where a WHO expert will explain science. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy and stick with science. 

 

Speaker key

Vismita   Vismita Gupta-Smith

Sylvie  Dr Sylvie Briand

 
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