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The surge in myths, hoaxes and scams surrounding COVID-19 shows no sign of abating.
“People are moving online in unprecedented numbers [and] the public health crisis is making it easier…to exploit people’s anxieties,” Alex Guirakhoo, strategy and research analyst at Digital Shadows, a company that provides Digital Risk Protection Software, told Fox News.
In some cases, the scam plays off the myth. In other cases, it’s simply misinformation.
Here are some of the worst misinformation, scams and hoaxes.
The new coronavirus was deliberately created or released: False
“Occasionally, a disease outbreak happens when a virus that is common in an animal such as a pig, bat or bird undergoes changes and passes to humans. This is likely how the new coronavirus came to be,” according to a blog post from Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The virus is the product of “natural evolution,” said The Scripps Research Institute, citing a new report in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.
Pneumonia vaccines work: False
Vaccines against pneumonia only help protect people from specific bacterial infections, according to Harvard Medical School. They do not protect against any coronavirus pneumonia, including pneumonia that may be part of COVID-19.
Alternative, home remedy “miracle drug” cures work: False
Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19, though there are a number of drug trials currently going on.
Amazon recently announced it barred the sale of over 1 million products that falsely claim to cure or provide protection against the coronavirus.
“There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease…online or in stores,” said the Federal Trade Commission in an advisory.
Bleach, chlorine, garlic or colloidal silver are also sometimes falsely claimed as a cure.
However, there is some hope for chloroquine, a drug that has been used to prevent and treat malaria. It has shown promise in being a potential treatment for the coronavirus, President Trump said Thursday.
Emails from the World Health Organization: False
Email scams are on the rise that impersonates official correspondence from reputable organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO).
Scams claim to provide critical data about the virus in order to get your sensitive personal information. These are scammers are simply after account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords.
One email scam pretends to give COVID-19 drug advice from the WHO and makes it look like the email is from Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites: False
To date, there is no evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes, according to the World Health Organization (which, despite scammers who try to exploit the WHO name, offers legitimate advice on its website about the virus).
“The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose,” the WHO said.
A face mask will protect you from COVID-19: False
For the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended.
“Because they don’t fit tightly, they may allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes. Also, people with the virus on their hands who touch their face under a mask might become infected,” Johns Hopkins Medicine said in a blog post.
People with a respiratory illness can, however, wear these masks to lessen the chance of infecting others.
Certain models of professional, tight-fitting respirators — such as the N95 — can protect health workers when they care for infected patients.
Phone calls about the coronavirus: Likely False
“Coronavirus is a perfect storm for robocallers seeking to scam consumers out of money and personal information. Bad actors are seizing on confusion and fear,” Transaction Network Services’ (TNS) Chief Product Officer Bill Versen told Fox News.
Among the most popular scams are a 3M scam call offering a coronavirus safety and medical kit and free iPhones, Netflix, healthcare services, and COVID-19 testing kits.