(National Institutes of Health via AP)

(National Institutes of Health via AP)

Experts bust six myths about COVID-19

Opinion

In a growing atmosphere of tension and mistrust over COVID-19 and public health restrictions, and some who are still against getting vaccinated for COVID-19, Ponoka News spoke with some experts to help bust some common myths and misconceptions about the virus and COVID-19 vaccines.

1) COVID-19 is just a flu.

“Despite the early misinformation that likened COVID-19 to nothing more than ‘a flu’, the virus has proven itself to be far more harmful and deadly than the seasonal flu. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses, and there can be difficulty in differentiating the two based on symptoms alone, the increased rates of severity and death set the two apart. According to a recent study, the mortality rate related to COVID-19 is nearly three times higher than that of the flu. And the differences don’t stop there. While the viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is much more contagious among certain groups than the flu. We’re also finding that those affected by COVID-19 are experiencing many more long-term effects of the infection such as weakness, shortness of breath, and trouble focusing, as well as kidney and heart problems.” – Peter Glazier, executive vice president, Lung Health Foundation.

(In a recent press release The Lung Health Foundation announced its partnership with Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats to provide Canadians with evidence-based, timely information on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, infectious respiratory diseases and other public health measures.)

2) Healthy people don’t need to worry about COVID-19 as it’s only fatal to those with underlying health issues.

“Healthy people should be vaccinated just like everyone else. You can have COVID and spread it to other people without even knowing you are sick or before you have symptoms. If you are immunized, the infectious particles the body releases when you cough or sneeze are greatly reduced meaning you are far less likely to infect someone you love. And some people with no health conditions are ending up in hospital with COVID or dying from COVID. Albertans talk a lot about rights but some people seem to forget they have a responsibility to do what they can to help stop this pandemic. Getting immunized is the best tool to help get life back to normal.” – Dr. Gregory Sawisky, Battle River Medical Clinic, Ponoka.

3) It’s all a conspiracy to take over our lives!

“Scientists are not certain how the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 came to infect humans. These viruses usually infect bats, but they sometimes pass to humans through an intermediary host. In the case of SARS in 2003, a coronavirus passed from bats to civets to humans. In the case of MERS (an outbreak in Saudi Arabia in 2012), it passed from bats to camels to humans.

“In this outbreak, we have two main theories of origin. The first is that it passed from bats through an animal species that we have not yet discovered. The second theory is that the virus escaped from a virology lab in Wuhan. Biden announced on May 27, 2021 that he’d directed the American intelligence services to investigate the possibility.

“Here is what we know for sure: whether the virus evolved naturally or escaped from quarantine, it is not a biological weapon. It may be deadly, but it’s not military grade. How can we be certain that a malign government force was not behind the outbreak? Given the great potential for blowback, it would be a foolish villain who would choose a pandemic to try to take over the world.

“Conspiracy theories are so compelling because we need someone to blame, and that is precisely what makes disasters like this one so dangerous for governments. We look to our public authorities for leadership, and they are the first to feel our wrath when governments fail in their responsibilities. Consider Donald Trump. He was cruising to a second term in the Oval Office until he mishandled the pandemic. Likewise, here in Alberta, Jason Kenney has gone from popular premier to provincial pariah in the space of a year.”

“Governments will battle the economic and political fallout from the pandemic for years to come. Beating the virus will require a great deal more public money, cooperation, and new technology. Whether it turns out to be an evolutionary fluke or a terrible accident is almost beside the point. Almost, but not quite. We are all very interested in what the CIA may find in the next few months.” – Marc Froese, professor of political science/director, International Studies Program, Burman University.

READ MORE: Biden orders more intel investigation of COVID-19 origin

Ponoka resident Graham Boyes, whose areas of expertise include insurance and identifying scams, also weighed in on this point.

”When we feel isolated because we’ve been unable to see our friends for months on end, worried about how we’re going to feed our families, or inconvenienced because we have to wear an uncomfortable mask, it’s reasonable to want to blame someone. When there is no one to blame, then politicians and the privileged elite, who surely must not face the struggles we do, seem like a good target. Whether or not they are actually responsible is not relevant. We want someone to pay for how we feel, because if we think we can’t change our situation, then someone else suffering consequences for it must be the next best thing,” said Boyes.

4) Getting a vaccine can give you COVID-19/ you can ‘shed’ the virus from getting a vaccine. “An individual cannot get COVID from any of the vaccines because none of them contain the live virus as any component of the ingredients. As a result, you cannot spread COVID from the vaccine.” – Jamil Rawji, owner/pharmacist of Ponoka Professional Pharmacy.

5) COVID-19 vaccinations can change your DNA.

“It’s quite common that people ask if any of the Covid vaccines can change your DNA. That may be because these RNA based vaccines are relatively new in wide use although they’ve been studied for a long time. RNA is very different than DNA – RNA is a very temporary message within cells that carries cell instructions. ( It is so temporary that it is is hard to work with in the lab because it breaks down so quickly!)

“All of the vaccines that we are using deliver a small piece of RNA, that has the instructions for our own selves to make part of the virus spike protein. This is only made for a short time but it is enough to train our immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus and train our immune defenders against it. We don’t have the machinery to put the RNA into our own DNA, and it never even enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is. The RNA stays outside the nucleus and it’s ‘recipe’ is used to make viral spike proteins for a short time. Then the RNA ‘recipe’ breaks down and disappears.” – Dr. Lynora Saxinger, infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Alberta.

6) The PCR test is not accurate.

The PCR test (Polymerase chain reaction) are the most widely used in Canada and are considered the best method of determining whether a person has COVID-19. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, almost all positive results are true positives, and false negatives are far more common.

A false negative test can occur when a test is done too early to detect the disease or when sample collection is poor. Approximately 98 per cent of cases tested zero to two days from exposure will not be detected.

Whether you believe it’s a fair or reasonable approach or not, the Government of Alberta’s plan to ease restrictions for the summer is now largely dependent on the percentage of Albertans who receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, not just active case numbers or hospitalizations.

If you are medically able to do so (i.e. don’t have a history of bad reactions to vaccines, aren’t immunocompromised or allergic to any ingredients of the vaccine, etcetera) please choose a vaccine that works for you and get vaccinated.

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Kobe Zembal (left) and Kale Rochette pose with some of the raised flower beds they have built. The flowerbeds are made from recycled plastic repurposed into plastic lumber. (Photo submitted)
Teens run successful plastic lumber products business in Bashaw

Pair of teenagers are learning first-hand about entrepreneurial spirit

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read