COVID-19 mistakes and myths

Updated Aug. 5, 2021

UC Davis infectious disease experts weigh in on common COVID-19 mistakes and myths and give the science behind them.

  • older man getting a COVID-19 vaccine

    You will not get COVID-19 from the vaccines

    There's no way to get COVID-19 from the vaccines. None of the vaccines that were given emergency-use authorization by the FDA in the U.S. use a live virus. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which carries instructions to your body about how to build a protein. In this case, it’s telling your body to make the spike protein that’s on the novel coronavirus. As a result, your immune system remembers the protein and is ready to attack and eliminate the real SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work

  • test tube with positive COVID-19 result

    Breakthrough cases for vaccinated people are rare, but do happen

    When a vaccinated person tests positive for COVID-19, many either have no symptoms or mild symptoms. It rarely results in hospitalization or death. Fully vaccinated people experience symptoms that are more like a common cold, such as cough, fever, or headache, with the possible loss of taste and smell.

    Learn how to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine at UC Davis Health

  • hand touching door handle

    Contaminated surfaces aren't the highest COVID-19 risk

    The primary route of COVID-19 infection isn't by touching contaminated surface but through the respiratory system. People should instead focus on wearing masks, particularly N95 or KN95, and social distancing as much as possible.

    Tests have found traces of COVID-19 on surfaces, but no research has established that the virus is viable in those places.

  • wiping table with cleaning product

    Cleaners need at least 1 minute to disinfect

    Many people are unaware that most cleaning products should stay wet on a surface for at least one minute, potentially up to 10 minutes, before wiping it down.

    Learn more about contact time of a cleaner from the Environmental Protection Agency's List N Tool: COVID-19 Disinfectants

  • woman using hand sanitizer

    Hand sanitizer do: Rub your hands until they're dry

    When using a hand sanitizer, don't just let your hands air dry. For the sanitizer to be most effective, rub your hands together until they're dry.

    Hand sanitizers should be at least 60% alcohol. The most commonly used safe version is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol.

    Don't use a sanitizer with methanol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that methanol is toxic and can be absorbed through the skin. It also warned that more than 100 sanitizers have been mislabeled as ethanol. You can find the list of hand sanitizers to avoid on the FDA's website.

  • man wearing pollution mask with filter

    Masks with filter ports are dangerous

    These type of masks are designed for people working around caustic fumes or chemicals. They force out the air you’re breathing through the port. Instead of protecting someone from you, they propel your breath even farther and more forcefully.

    N95s with the filter in the middle also do not prevent someone from spreading the virus. They filter air coming in but do let air out.

    Learn which masks protect you best

  • wearing gloves pushing grocery basket

    Wearing gloves isn't necessary

    There are no studies that show disposable gloves increase protection against COVID-19. The virus won’t infect you through your well-moisturized hands, and remember, surface contact is not a primary source of COVID-19 transmission. If you do infect yourself, it would be from touching your face – with or without gloves.

  • large floor fan

    Floor fans aren't good

    Large floor fans create a focused blast that pushes air and the virus a long way. A number of studies show you can get infected at a good distance because of those large fans, Tuznik said.

    Besides gyms – most are closed right now – these fans are also common in outdoor restaurants and other venues where people gather.

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