8.2 Editor's Pick
March 22, 2020

Misinformation is Rampant in the COVID-19 Pandemic: 4 Things to Know.

Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors. 

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Relephant: 
Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon

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These five statements piss me off.

>> “The carnivore diet can prevent COVID-19 as it has all the essential vitamins and minerals for the immune system.”

>> “Eat these foods to boost the immune system and prevent coronavirus.”

>> “If everyone were vegan, this pandemic wouldn’t have happened.”

>> “Self-test for COVID-19 by holding your breath. If you can hold for over a minute, you don’t have it.”

>> “Protect yourself from COVID-19 by drinking water frequently. You will wash it into your stomach and not get sick.”

Do they sound reasonable? Do they not? Do they seem to make sense, or are they utter bull crap?

I’m not going to leave any room for suspense; we’ve got enough anxiety already. It’s all hogwash.

There is a tsunami of misinformation flooding the media, Instagram, Facebook, and—to my frustration—even Elephant Journal.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and to my utter disgust, an article on Elephant Journal about how to boost our immune systems through food popped up on my feed, followed by some shaming quotes about how veganism would have prevented this.

That, my friends, is misinformation at its finest—disguised under a site we trust.

Now, it may or may not be intentional. There are people out there lying to individuals and using scare tactics to make money, sell books, hook people on new diets. There are uninformed people trying to help other people by sharing what they think is true.

And how do we know? Our colloquial expressions and experience tell us that this should work like everything else.

Except, this is unprecedented in our lifetimes.

So, I’d like to address what I find could be the most problematic sources of misinformation, at this time.

1. The false statement that boosting the immune system is something we can do.

Boosting the immune system would entail increasing its action and presence. This would likely create a rise in autoimmune reactions, as there would be more lymphocytes, an immune cell, leading to more issues in the development of lymphocytes.

Autoimmune disorders display increased levels of different immune cells. We can’t make our immune system “more” by doing things. Our immune system functions as it functions.

Now, if “boosting” is colloquial for supporting, then there’s another problem. Sure, we can support our immune system if we are deficient in vitamins. Research has shown that Vitamin D can help support immune function in general. Research has shown Vitamin C and Zinc can help support the immune system during influenza. But, there is no research on how these supplements act on COVID-19. This is a new disease. We cannot accurately say that anything we do for other diseases would necessarily help this.

What has been shown to prevent or treat COVID-19 is washing our hands, practicing social isolation, and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).

There is no research that tell us what, if anything, supports the immune system during COVID-19.

2. The false statement that X, Y, Z food, supplement, action, diet, herb, will help treat or prevent COVID-19.

I’m sorry to say, but that vegan/carnivore/paleo/keto/whole30 diet isn’t making anyone more prepared. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that most people will get with minimal to no symptoms. Those with pre-existing conditions, of older age, or with compromised immune systems could have problems recovering.

For those who are infected and have no problems, it’s not the diet. The diet won’t prevent someone exposed from getting sick. They will get sick. Their immune system will respond, and they will recover however fast they recover.

The diet doesn’t and won’t necessarily play a role. No research has shown that diet impacts COVID-19.

3. The false statement that veganism could have prevented COVID-19.

This illness likely spread from bats. Ebola spread from monkeys. Viruses and bacteria are continually adapting to their environment to spread more quickly and survive.

That happens in every living creature. It occurs in animal agriculture, yes, but it also happens in my dog. As long as anything lives, viruses and bacteria will endeavor to evolve to live in a host and spread to other hosts.

The statement that veganism could have prevented COVID-19 is problematic in its establishment of a moral hierarchy of eating in a way that is difficult for many individuals, and completely ignores the socioeconomic component to food accessibility.

4. The false idea that any doctor, dietician, immunologist, or environmentalist is an authority on COVID-19.

This is an evolving situation. In hours to minutes, the information changes. Whatever someone with any title said moments ago could be invalid now.

Stay up to date with the CDC’s information, as well as the WHO. Plus, there is a website that has real-time updates of every tested case, here. Anyone else is getting their information secondhand anyway, and we need to stay on the ball when telling each other the facts.

The facts. We need to focus on the facts.

The well-intentioned people spreading inaccurate information aren’t helping. We need to start helping each other find the facts.

The panic, fear, and voluminous amounts of speculation aren’t helping us.

As a community, we can start pushing for truth, facts, data, research, and hold each other to a higher standard of what we share.

And, I’m genuinely curious: what are other beliefs or information you’ve heard about COVID-19? Please share below, let’s see if we can tackle their veracity together.

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For more, check out some of Elephant’s most mindful, helpful COVID-19 articles:
How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.

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