Q&A

Prevention/Disinfection

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False - Mostly False - Partially True - Mostly True - True

Q. Warm water/vitamin C/sesame oil/ mouthwash/air purifier for prevention?

False. Folk remedies such as warm water, vitamin C, sesame oil are spreading. However, the CDC and WHO have announced that there are no verified drugs or vaccines to prevent COVID-19 yet[1][2]. Moreover, there are no confirmed cases of using air purification technology to filter out COVID-19[3]. Hong-jun Park, the representative of the Seoul Medical Association said, “Mouthwash is effective in killing bacteria or viruses in the mouth but there are areas hard to reach (inside the nose or the mucous membrane). Therefore, mouthwash can’t cover all the respiratory parts.” This means it cannot prevent COVID-19 in particular[4].

Q. Antiphlamine/Pneumonia vaccine/ antibiotics/chloroquine for prevention?

False. Firstly, the CDC and WHO have announced that there are no verified drugs or vaccines to prevent COVID-19 yet[1][2]. According to published data by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Antiphlamine is a type of anti-inflammatory analgesic drug that is not associated with preventing COVID-19, a respiratory infection[3]. According to the WHO, pneumonia shots such as pneumococcal or Haemophilus influenza type B vaccines will not prevent COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 is a novel virus that needs a separate vaccine that researchers are currently working on[1]. COVID-19 is a virus, so it cannot be prevented with antibiotics that kill bacteria. If one is prescribed with antibiotics during COVID-19 hospitalization, it would be to prevent bacterial co-infection[1]. Moreover, as the fear of COVID-19 increases, the quote “prepare chloroquine as a preventive drug” is spreading in online communities. Ji-hwan Bang, an expert from the Division of Infectious Diseases, Boramae Medical Center, advised that “Taking chloroquine for COVID-19 prevention has insufficient evidence and could bring side effects… it should not be taken so mindlessly”[4][5]. Chloroquine’s common side effects are hepatotoxicity, nerve deafness, hallucination, aplastic anemia, leukocytopenia[6].

Q. Ultraviolet lamp (UV)/ hand dryer to sterilize hands and skin?

Mostly False. The WHO officially stated that “A hand dryer is not effective in killing the COVID-19 virus”[1]. In addition, an ultraviolet lamp (UV) should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritations[1].

Q. Spraying alcohol or chlorine on the body for sterilization?

Mostly False. Spraying alcohol or chlorine cannot kill viruses that have already invaded the body. These substances can be fatal to the mucous membrane such as eyes and mouth. Alcohol and chlorine may be effective in disinfecting an object’s surface but they should be used as instructed[1]. It is more effective to sanitize your hands with water and soap and to clean frequently-used objects rather than to sterilize your skin with alcohol[2].

Q. Hand sanitizer is harmful to pregnant women?

False. According to the CDC, it is advised to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol[1]. Although ethanol is a strong teratogen whose teratogenic threshold is not yet known[2], Joong-sik Eom from the Infectious Diseases Division of Gachon University Gil Medical Center said,” It is okay for pregnant or breastfeeding women to use hand sanitizers… they don’t have the right concentration or composition to be absorbed into the body”[3]. Alcohol in contact with skin dries out quickly and even if it is absorbed, it is too little to affect the body[4]. However, you are advised not to smell your hands when the alcohol dries or use on a wounded hand[4]. Washing your hand with water and soap could be better if these precautions are not followed[5].

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Q. Are there drugs or vaccines to help prevent COVID-19?

Mostly False. Folk remedies such as having warm water, vitamin C, and sesame oil are spreading. However, CDC and WHO have not announced any approved drug or vaccine to help prevent COVID-19[1][2]. 

Q. Can I visit the place if it has been sterilized after an infectee’s visit?

Mostly True. According to the Korean Medical Association, there is no risk of infection if the place has been sterilized after the infectee’s routes were tracked[1]. Disinfection itself can kill off more than 99.9% of the virus, so the site can be visited when 24 hours have passed after sterilization[1].

Q. A Hot bath can prevent COVID-19?

Mostly False. According to the WHO, normal body temperature is maintained within 36.5°C~37°C, regardless of the water temperature. Therefore, hot baths won’t prevent COVID-19[1].  Rather, if the water is too hot, bathing can cause burns so you should be careful. One of the best preventive measures is to wash your hands frequently to avoid infection through hands touching the eyes, nose, and mouth[1]

Q. Can I prevent COVID-19 by eating garlic or kimchi? 

False. Severance Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases experts said, ”All wrong. There used to be newspaper articles titled ‘Kimchi has a preventive effect’ in the past. However, this is not scientifically proven”[1][2]. COVID-19 information alerts operated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare have also corrected that although garlic and kimchi are healthy, there is no research to prove their correlations with COVID-19 prevention[3]. 

Q. How can I prevent infection when wearing contact lenses?

Cases of COVID-19 infection through contact lenses have not been released publicly, but Infectious Diseases specialist mentioned that ‘if COVID-19 droplets get into the eyes, they can cause infection through the mucous membrane’[1][2]. That is, touching your eyes after touching a contaminated object can cause infection[2]. The CDC advises not to touch your face[3] and to prevent infection through contact lenses, contact lens hygiene rules should be strictly followed[4]. 

Q. What is used for COVID-19 sterilization?

According to the Central Disinfection Countermeasure Headquarters, when disinfecting the space used by a COVID-19 infectee, 36 types of COVID-19 disinfectant approved by the Ministry of Environment and verified by its Department of Chemical Products or the disinfectant among the 41 types approved by the WHO is to be used[1]. Moreover, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(KCDCP) sets standards for reusing the space after sterilization according to each disinfectant’s characteristics[1].

Q. Does regular nasal wash help prevent COVID-19?

Mostly False. According to the WHO, rinsing your nose with saline solution helps when you have a cold. But there is no evidence that regular nasal wash with saline solution helps prevent corona-19 infections yet[1]. 

Q. Influenza vaccination to protect against COVID-19?

Mostly False. The European CDC clarified that because influenza and COVID-19 viruses are very different, getting seasonal influenza vaccinations will not protect you against COVID-19[1]. According to the WHO, pneumococcus or Haemophilus influenza type B vaccines will not help either. COVID-19 is a novel virus that needs a separate vaccine that researchers are currently working on[2]. 

Q. Preventive Measures for COVID-19?

The public preventive guidelines officially issued by the KCDC are as follows[1]:

1) Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 30 seconds

2) Avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands

3) Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeves

4) Avoid contact with people who have a fever, respiratory symptoms such as cough and sore throat

5) Avoid visiting crowded places

6) Wear a mask in public or in medical centers especially for the elderly/pregnant women/patients with chronic disease

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© 2020 created by 연세대학교 (Yonsei Univ.) 고등교육혁신원 (IHEI) - ARMS & SaChoom       

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