Myth: Antibiotics can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection


posted on: August 14th, 2020

You might have heard that taking antibiotics can protect against or cure COVID-19 infection. This is not true. Antibiotics are drugs that are used to treat bacterial infections by killing bacteria. Covid-19 is not caused by bacteria. It is caused by coronavirus, which is a type of virus. We do not yet have any drug that is proven to cure COVID-19 infection. 

It is true that some patients in hospitals with Covid-19 are treated with antibiotics. However, in these cases the antibiotics are not being used to treat coronavirus. Instead, they are used to treat any bacterial infections the patient might have at the same time. This is because it can be difficult to tell if someone has pneumonia (infection in the lungs) because of bacteria or because of a virus like the new coronavirus. Both bacterial and viral pneumonia cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, coughs, and fevers. Also, if a person has severe Covid-19, requiring treatment in hospital, they are more vulnerable to bacterial infections because their lungs are already damaged. 

Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is where bacteria evolve and can no longer be killed by the antibiotic. This is a very serious issue, and it is therefore very important that you do not take antibiotics unless your doctor tells you to.

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, you should take bedrest and paracetamol, and self-isolate for 7 days. If your symptoms become more serious, you should seek medical advice. Do not try to cure yourself with antibiotics. 

The best way to prevent coronavirus infection is by social (physical) distancing, staying at home where possible, and frequently washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds. 

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