It’s not that there’s a different set of truths about Covid-19 for Christians than for anyone else; but there are certain myths and ideas that seem particularly frequent in the Christian internet. So let’s look at them through a uniquely Christian lens.
As believers, we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is because what we think and what we believe shapes our actions, decisions, and character. If we are believing myths, urban legends, and rumors, we end up essentially believing lies and our decisions are shaped by these lies. We are not the first people to be challenged by legends in our day; Paul wrote to Titus, “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sternly, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of men who have rejected the truth.”
There were myths and urban legends in Paul’s day, and there are in ours as well. Here are the most common myths being spread in Christian circles about Covid-19, in no particular order:
- Myth: The CDC said that only 6% of Covid-19 deaths were actually caused by Covid-19.
- Myth: Only old people with pre-existing conditions are at risk from Covid-19
- Myth: Covid-19 is no worse that the flu.
- Myth: Covid-19 kills as many people as car accidents do every year.
- Myth: Covid-19 death counts in the USA are exaggerated by hospitals misreporting.
- Myth: More people in the USA are dying from suicide, drug abuse, and loneliness than Covid-19.
- Myth: Old people and people with pre-existing conditions should stay home and the rest of us can live a normal life.
- Myth: If we just follow Sweden’s example and let the virus rage, we’ll reach herd immunity quickly and everything will be fine.
- Myth: Liberals believe in survival of the fittest and should follow that idea now.
- Myth: I don’t need to worry about Covid-19 in my area because all the cases locally are in nursing homes.
- Myth: Masks don’t work.
- Myth: Masks protect us so we should be able to live life normally wearing them.
- Myth: Covid-19 is a respiratory illness.
- Myth: Taking vitamin D and other immune boosting supplements, and a healthy diet, is all we need to defeat Covid-19.
- Myth: As long as I feel healthy, I don’t have coronavirus and can’t spread it.
- Myth: Masks are bad for you.
- Myth: The mRNA vaccines coming out will permanently alter your DNA.
- Myth: Wearing a mask removes individuality and is against human rights.
Each one of these myths is tackled below. Scroll down to read about the one you are interested in reading about.
Myth: The CDC said that only 6% of deaths counted as covid deaths were actually caused by Covid; the rest were all caused by pre-existing conditions.
The CDC did say something about 6% of causes of death being Covid-19, but the meaning of what was said has often been twisted and taken out of context. Death certificates are what this myth is discussing. On a death certificate, in most cases, physicians will list everything that went into the process of someone dying. So if someone got in an automobile accident, and died from a deep wound in their neck that resulted in a massive loss of blood which then caused a heart attack, all four things will likely be put on the death certificate as the cause of death: the automobile accident, which contributed to a neck wound, which resulted in blood loss, which ultimately caused a heart attack.
The same is true of Covid. People die from covid sometimes because of pre-existing conditions; for instance: the patient had asthma, which resulted in respiratory distress, because of Covid. In that case, three causes of death would be on the death certificate.
And a fair amount of people with Covid do have pre-existing conditions. But there are also a fair amount of people who die of Covid who do not have pre-existing conditions; yet even in this situation, more than one cause of death will generally be listed. For instance, Covid has been known to cause strokes in young, healthy people. In which case, the cause of death listed may be a stroke, and Covid-19.
Covid also causes respiratory distress (inability to breath sufficiently), and it causes blood clots and heart attacks. It’s also common for Covid to open the door for secondary infections, such as systemic pneumonia. Pneumonia can cause sepsis (an infection of the blood throughout the entire body which causes all organs to shut down.) Etc etc. Someone who had a cascade of events of failing health, all due exclusively to Covid even without pre-existing conditions or anything else, is still likely to have several causes of death on their death certificate, explaining exactly HOW Covid killed the person.
In 6% of cases, only Covid was listed on the certificate. This could happen because health professionals were in a hurry, or weren’t present at the time of death (for instance, the person died at home) or because the physician who filled out the death certificate just decided to be brief.
But this does not mean that only 6% of the people who had covid on their death certificates actually are the only people in the Covid count who actually died of Covid.
Myth: Only old people with pre-existing conditions die from Covid-19.
It is true that having a pre-existing condition greatly increases the odds of a bad outcome from Covid. But many young people and middle aged people with no known pre-existing conditions die of Covid-19, too. For example: sadly, a 41 year old elected official recently died of Covid, and it is specifically stated that he had no pre-existing conditions. A thirteen year old boy with no real pre-existing conditions recently died of Covid. A 21 year old college student recently died of Covid.
Anecdotes aside, many many young people have died of covid, many of whom had no pre-existing conditions.
AND — many many people who have not been killed by COVID, have had their lives completely wrecked by COVID after-effects that have yet to go away half a year later. Death is not the only problem this thing causes.
For more reading about young people dying from Covid:
Myth: Covid-19 is nothing special, it’s just like the flu.
The flu kills roughly 30,000 people in the USA in a given year, or almost one in ten-thousand Americans. In a really bad year, the flu might kill 60,000, but this is rare. Covid-19 has already killed 330,000 at the time when I’m writing this, and we haven’t even been counting covid deaths for a year yet (more like 9 months.) This represents roughly one in a thousand people in the USA, already dead from Covid.
One of my friends pointed out that we have a vaccine for flu so it would probably kill a lot more people without it. But this effect is small; estimates are that the flu vaccine saves 40000 lives over a 9 year period, or around 5000 people a year, give or take.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html — flu death statistics
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden-averted/2019-2020.htm – flu vaccine statistics
Myth: Covid-19 kills as many people as car accidents.
About 36,000 people a year die on American roads. Covid has killed 11 times as many people in 10 months thus far.
Myth: Covid-19 case counts are exaggerated. One of the reasons is that the USA tests more people than any other country, so of course we find more cases.
President Trump first started saying back in May that the USA tested more than any other country. Even in May, this was not the truth. (Here’s an article from July, after that it is hard to compare because Trump stopped saying it as often, so less articles were written to refute it.).
Myth: Covid-19 death numbers have been exaggerated. Hospitals make more money every time they say they have a covid case so you can’t believe case counts.
Experts say that Covid-19 death numbers are actually UNDER represented. This is because many deaths due to Covid look like deaths from other reasons; for instance, we know that Covid is a vascular disease that causes blood clots, leading to heart attacks and strokes in people who sometimes have no other symptoms. People who are found dead at home from a heart attack might not get a covid test, but nevertheless may have died from Covid.
The CDC keeps track of what is called the “excess death rate” for various causes of death. The excess deaths are the number of people dying from a cause that are markedly in excess of what one would see in a common year in the USA. A certain large percentage (like over 100,000) of these excess deaths are believed to be attributable to undiagnosed COVID-19. Covid deaths often look like non-covid deaths, as covid can cause things like heart attacks and strokes without any other symptoms. For more reading on this click here.
Also, there are rumors spreading that doctors are labeling car accident deaths as occurring from covid-19. Johns Hopkins medical center responds to that here.
Furthermore, not everyone who dies with a positive test for Covid-19 is labeled as a “covid death” unless the doctors believe covid reasonably was a contributing cause.
But, if you don’t believe the CDC, you can just ask the funeral home and coffin industries. In Los Angeles, for example: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9097153/L-funeral-homes-short-pine-coffins-one-rented-52-foot-refrigerated-truck.html
Myth: We need to open the country up because more people are dying of suicide and loneliness than are dying of Covid.
We do need to open up the country, but that is only possible if COVID is kept to low levels of spread. To get there, we need people to be diligent about social distancing, and not travel over the holidays. We need rapid testing which in most corners of society, we don’t yet have. We need people to cover their noses and mouths with masks at all times when around other individuals they do not live with or have a small group “bubble” with. And when COVID-19 spread starts to rise, we need short term lockdowns to bring it back under control. Ultimately, we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated now that vaccines are starting to become an option. And we need people to stop spreading disinformation about masks and so forth that leads to a jump in case numbers because people refuse to take precautions to limit the spread in their community.
If we all cooperate with one another, we can keep covid-19 under control and open many things up. But if we continue to behave in ridiculous and ill-advised ways, Covid keeps spreading like a wildfire and we can never get case numbers down low enough to open things safely. Read more about how countries can be open during COVID-19 here: https://time.com/5836607/reopening-risks-coronavirus/
As for overdoses and suicides, there definitely has been an increase during COVID-19. It would be interesting though to know what percentage is linked to families grieving lost loved ones. At any rate, the increased depression and dysfunctional coping among people in our country definitely needs to be addressed; but it is also worth noting that the increase is nowhere near the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 directly. https://www.crainsdetroit.com/health-care/covids-heavy-toll-depression-suicides-opioid-overdoses-increase-pandemic-era
Myth: Old people and people with pre-existing conditions simply need to quarantine and stay inside, and let the rest of us keep living normal life.
That would be nice if it could work that way, but that’s not how an epidemic works. First, as already stated, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are not the only people dying from Covid. But even if we imagine a disease that truly only killed easily predicatable groups of people, and we had those people quarantine while everyone else went back to normal, the behavior of the many would still kill those few. Why? Because even people quarantining are still, no matter how hard they try to stay inside, are connected to the outside world whether they want to be or not.
The only way to protect people is to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the entire population; the realities of life don’t let us pick and choose to allow a disease to spread in some people and not other people.
People still need to go food shopping. They occasionally need to go to the doctor for things not related to COVID-19. My 66 year old husband had a medical emergency in July when Covid was thankfully mostly under control in our area, and we were grateful for that because he had to go to the emergency room. If Covid was spreading like wildfire, that trip may have been deadly for him.
People still need to buy gas and stand at the gas pump sometimes downwind from other customers. People still have problems with their pipes and need an emergency plumber to come in their home, or they need an emergency electrician. Sometimes storms destroy homes and people need a contractor and they need to stay in a hotel. Sometimes people at high risk have no choice but to go to work because they have no savings and their employment is deemed “essential,” so they don’t get laid off and can’t collect unemployment. If they are like my husband who needed to be admitted to a hospital for a non-covid reason, they need doctors, nurses, cafeteria workers, and cleaning crews that will not spread Covid to them. If they live in a nursing home or care facility, they need staff that did not get coronavirus at the grocery store, or church, or at their friends’ party the other night.
What we need is for COVID-19 to be at very low levels of spread in the entire population to have any chance of protecting the most vulnerable. Whatever the society is carrying is going to make its way to the vulnerable folks too. And, again, we don’t actually know who those folks are — because even young people without preexisting conditions are at risk from Covid-19.
Myth: Let the virus rage (like Sweden supposedly did) and we’ll get herd immunity and everything will be fine.
Sweden did keep things open for a bit, but Sweden had as part of their plan that companies could reduce peoples’ hours and with government pay people their full normal paycheck, even though they only had to work 20% of their normal hours to get that check.
However, after a little while, Sweden’s herd immunity plan had to be curtailed because the virus started raging out of control there too, and too many people were dying.
It is largely considered by medical ethicists and disease experts trying to reach “herd immunity” with wild and unchecked spread of the virus in the USA would be deeply immoral and cause too many deaths to be a reasonable course of action.
Additionally, it does not appear that natural immunity to COVID-19 lasts very long, although it is true we do not know yet exactly how long it lasts. We know that other coronaviruses humans are familiar with confer immunity for 1 or 2 years, but we don’t know much about this one. There are many people documented though to have already gotten COVID-19 twice this year, and while for many people it was less severe the second round, although we know of one woman who died the second time round after doing OK with it the first time.
Myth: Liberals believe in “survival of the fittest” so they should be fine with letting weak and vulnerable people die from COVID.
Some people, and unfortunately many of them being Christians, might be OK with letting Covid-19 do its worst, killing off whoever is susceptible to dying of COVID-19, or having people that survive it incur lasting and devastating effects for months or years to come. But many people, a large number of them liberals, are far more concerned about the weak and vulnerable and in so doing, hold up a mirror to conservative Christian ethics. Yet I’ve heard Christians mocking people saying, “Those liberals believe in ‘survival of the fittest’ so why aren’t they into that now?”
I can not express enough how repugnant it is to hear brothers and sisters in Christ flippantly and callously speak in such selfish and ugly terms as wanting to kill off weak and vulnerable people — and using an overly simplistic version of the theory of evolution, which they hate as a scientific theory, in order to scorn those who are doing what they themselves ought to do. But they instead mock those who care about COVID-19 sufferers, and use their misunderstood summation of the “survival of the fittest” to justify themselves in so doing.
But to clear the air, those who properly understand and accept the science of evolution and the idea of survival of the fittest, would mostly agree that the idea of “survival of the fittest” as applied to humans in evolutionary theory is not merely about the fittest “individuals” in our society. The adaptations that the species has which enables us to respond to adversity are what makes us evolutionarily fit for survival, and in that regard, humans are rather intelligent social creatures that at least within their own social groups can be quite compassionate, and can use that caring intelligence to look out for one another. Group cohesion and intelligent care for one another is a big part of what human “fitness” for survival looks like and which has enabled our species to survive all that nature has thrown at us. “Survival of the fittest” is not specifically an individualized thing, but can often be seen in how humans are social creatures who look after the weak in their families and societies.
Myth: I don’t need to worry about spreading coronavirus or catching it because the only people in my area sick with it are in nursing homes.
If it’s in a nursing home in your area, its there because other people in the community brought it there. There has never been a bigger need for everyone, but particularly the people of God, to live out the ideal of “loving your neighbor” than now. Coronavirus spread is a matter of what everyone in a community does; and the more people who believe themselves to be the invincible “healthy” people in a community pass it around, the more the nursing homes and everyone else ends up with it. If you want to understand more about how your actions as an individual affect the weak and vulnerable in your community, check out this interactive here.
Myth: Masks don’t work
Masks are not 100% effective at preventing coronavirus, but they do massively reduce how many people will contract the virus compared to how many would get it if no one was wearing a mask.
Here’s a great video that explains:
Myth: Masks protect us, so we should be able to live a normal life.
Masks only work when combined with social distancing. And masks only have an effect in reducing how often someone new gets infected with covid — they don’t prevent covid infection entirely.
Myth: Covid is a respiratory illness
Covid is more likely properly defined as a vascular disease, with respiratory features in some individuals.
Myth: As long as I take vitamin D, eat a healthy diet, take a lot of immune boosting supplements, etc, I have nothing to worry about.
There is no known cure or prevention for coronavirus other than the new vaccines coming out. While vitamin D does have a small but beneficial effect at preventing the severity of coronavirus, it is by no means a *guarantee* of health. There are things that can help you be healthy but helping is not the same as a perfect shield against Covid-19. Northwestern University for instance found a statistically significant improvement in the outcomes of patients with adequate vitamin D vs. those with deficiency, but the improvement was only present for about 3% of cases.
Additionally, if you get the virus and your immune system handles it well, that will still not keep you from spreading the virus to everyone you come in contact with. You may recover, but the person you gave the virus to may give it to someone who gives it to someone who dies. If you didn’t believe yourself to be invincible because you took a handful of herbs and vitamin D, that person might have lived long enough to get the vaccine and be relatively safe. With coronavirus, the expression, “It’s not all about you” has never been more true.
As long as I feel healthy, I don’t have coronavirus.
I know a guy who has been testing positive for three months straight and has never had a symptom of the virus. He feels perfectly fine and he’s frustrated he is still having to quarantine himself from his girlfriend.
But it’s not just my friend. It is well known that people without any symptoms do carry and spread coronavirus to others. In the political climate of the moment, this was briefly refuted by a public health organization over the summer but that organization went back to stating the facts of the situation later on — as do all other health departments on the planet: You can spread coronavirus without having any symptoms.
Myth: Masks are bad for you.
Masks have been widely used in our society by people every day for decades. Surgeons wear them, people who do sanding and painting wear them, people who fight fires wear them. Doctor after doctor has gone on youtube showing that their oxygen levels don’t go down even while wearing a mask. No one has questioned the safety of wearing masks for occupational hazards until this became a political issue.
The truth is that of course, if your mask is made out of some non-breathable material, like super thick material or a plastic bag, then yeah, you could be suffocating yourself with it. But the average face mask made from regular types of fabric or paper, is not going to cause issues with oxygen levels, unless you already have a breathing disorder like COPD.
Myth: The mRNA vaccines coming out for COVID permanently alter your DNA.
This is not what mRNA does in cells. There is no reason to think mRNA would do anything whatsoever to your DNA, from any mRNA vaccine. mRNA is made by picking up the pattern of DNA, but in the case of the vaccine, the DNA pattern being used is not YOUR DNA, but it has a copy of a portion of the virus’s DNA. It can’t do anything to YOUR DNA with this, because that’s not how mRNA works.
mRNA heads to the ribosomes (not your DNA) of your cells where it instructs the ribosomes to make various types of proteins — in this case, the protein being made is the spike protein from the outside of the coronavirus. But this sounds worse than it is — any time in your life you have ever had a virus, the virus invaded your cells and used your ribosomes to make its proteins. With the vaccine, the whole virus isn’t in your cells, just a temporary instruction on how to make the protein on the outside of it, so your immune system can be trained against that unique protein. Your body does not continue to make this protein forever, either — when the mRNA from the vaccine runs out from telling enough cells what kind of protein to make, your cells move on to making other stuff.
Myth: Mask wearing takes away your individuality and your human rights.
Masks can massively show off the individuality of the person wearing them. Masks come in all types of fabrics and designs and colors. There are artistic masks, high-tech masks, you’ll almost never see two people wearing the same mask. Individuality abounds with masks. And if you are desperate for people to see your face, there are even clear plastic masks.
As for rights, in the USA we decided a long time ago that health and safety in many instances was not an infringement on human rights. We made laws against driving without seatbelts. We made it illegal to smoke on airplanes, most areas of restaurants, or in hospitals. We made kids wear bike helmets and adults wear motorcycle helmets. Wearing a mask is important because we share the air together, but we don’t want everyone to share coronavirus.
Lies and disinformation and myths hurt everyone, because when it comes to Covid, we’re all in this together. What you do affects me, and what I do affects you. This one takes a village — working together — to conquer.