COVID-19: Dispelling myths and misinformation

Date: 2 December 2020

Community pharmacies need to be aware of the myths and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 so that they can better inform and help patients.

An International Pharmacy Federation (FIP) webinar, titled Self-care: managing mild COVID-19 symptoms, dispelling the myths has stressed the important role of community pharmacies in the COVID-19 environment.

FIP lead for data and intelligence Christopher John said community pharmacies had a pivotal role to play not only in ensuring access to medicines and medical devices, “but also in public health and namely by informing the public about preventative measures, advising about behavioural precautions and risk assessment, early detection and referral of individuals suspected to be at high risk of being infected from COVID-19.

“Pharmacy staff may face myths and questions, so they need to be ready to deal with them utilising available evidence.

“We are faced day after day with a huge amount of COVID-19 information. Not all of it is reliable and like the virus, myths and rumours can multiply and grow in a very large number and take hold as being true.”

It was important to not spread rumours in group chats, double-check facts, obtain information from trusted sources, and ask “How do you know it’s true?”.

One question asked of pharmacists and staff was whether there were any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“There is no magic bullet. To date, there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. We are reliant on public health measures.”

Mr John said patients may ask about a range of misinformation on COVID-19 including:

  • Use of pneumonia and flu vaccines: No evidence to prove they provide protection against COVID-19
  • Saline nasal spray: No evidence they protect against infection
  • High or low temperatures provide protection: Such temperatures do not prevent a person contracting COVID-19
  • Antibiotics: Only used for bacterial infection
  • Methanol and ethanol sprays: Do not prevent getting the virus and potentially can harm eyes and mouth
  • Drinking alcohol: No protection
  • Garlic: No evidence of protection
  • UV disinfection lamp/disinfectants: Used on surfaces, not body
  • 5G networks: Avoiding exposure does not prevent infection
  • Supplements:
  • Vitamin C, zinc, green tea or echinacea – unlikely to affect immune system
  • Colloidal silver – not safe or effective
  • Oleandrin – poisonous

Mr John also said one theory was that ibuprofen upregulates ACE, increasing entry of COVID-19 into cells but, to date, the only studies of this had been on rats, not humans.

FIP Guidelines state: “There is currently no conclusive evidence to establish a direct association between the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (including ibuprofen) and increased risk of infection or severity of disease.”

A recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Contact: The Guild
Phone: 13GUILD

Previous Forefront article

Was this page useful to you?

Page last updated on: 02 December 2020