NewsWorldEight things that do not work against covid-19 but...

Eight things that do not work against covid-19 but that many of us continue to do


(CNN Spanish) – Maintain physical detachment, wash hands, wear masks. Doctors and health authorities have repeated it ad nauseam and, until now, together with the covid-19 vaccine, they are the golden rules for navigating this era of pandemic that we had to live through.

But it is not the only thing we have done to protect ourselves.

In the interest of reopening, countries have adopted a series of measures such as taking the temperature in public places, installing disinfection stations with mats and even booths. At home, cleaning has become central: from shoes, through clothes and shopping bags.

How effective is all this really against covid-19? We spoke with several doctors about these measures

Disinfection mats – cover shoes – disinfect soles – disinfect car tires

In some countries it is common to see a series of mats at the entrance of private and public venues through which people must pass in a specific order. There are usually two or three and one of them contains a disinfectant solution. Also, in some places, they offer people a kind of disposable gaiters to cover their shoes, or directly ask people to apply disinfectant to the soles before entering. Similarly, certain places have adopted the practice of disinfecting tires or entire cars with sprinklers.

Does it work against covid-19?

The consensus among the experts we consulted is that these measures against the coronavirus do not work, but that disinfecting shoes or leaving them at the entrance of the house can prevent dirt and contaminants from entering.

“The truth is that viruses do not come in the shoes, they are floating in the air. And if it stays in the shoe, they do not rise,” explains virologist María Fernanda Gutiérrez, from the Javeriana University of Bogotá, Colombia.

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“It is useless, there is very little that can help,” says Diego Rosselli, professor of Epidemoiology at the Javeriana University. “It is known that the transmission of the virus by surfaces is less than what was initially believed. That the shoes contaminate … there is no evidence that this is true,” he explains.

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Cleaning the shopping bags

In March of last year we learned that covid-19 could survive on surfaces for up to three days. Later, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that the coronavirus was not easily spread by surfaces.

Again, experts point out that it is a matter of probability.

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Does it work against covid-19?

The experts we consulted say no, but there is discussion.

“The probability that the virus is stuck in the bag is low and taking it off is not easy because it comes out in pieces. For you to become infected, and it can contaminate you (if the virus were there), you would have to blow the bag”, explains Dr. Gutiérrez. “What is important is to wash your hands after picking up the bags. It is not the bags that transmit, it is the hands.”

“Hand washing remains a basic recommendation because of the risk of hands to nose or mouth creating an input mechanism,” says Dr. Rosselli. “On cleaning the market bags, there is controversy, as there are people who continue to recommend it just in case. I think the consensus is that no.”

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“We have learned then this year that the main mode of contagion of this disease is through aerosols in the respiratory tract. At the beginning, February March, (there was) mass hysteria, because we did not know,” explains Dr. Elmer Huerta , oncologist, specialist in Public Health and contributor to CNN en Español.

“We cleaned the boxes in the supermarkets, the plastic bags in which they left your food, the surfaces and the questions were, what is better? What type of detergent should I use? What type of disinfectant should I wash the soles of My shoes when entering the house? Have I gone out for a while and do I have to wash my clothes immediately? Leave outside? Enter the house naked? Gee, it was all a why? Because we did not know. Over the months we have been learning “.

The journal Nature, explains Huerta, also posted a general count about contagion by surfaces: although it is possible, it is very rare.

symptoms covid-19 feverTake the temperature

Has your wrist temperature been taken using a non-contact thermometer? Some take it on the forehead and others rely on thermal cameras.

Does it work against covid-19?


“Not on the wrist or anywhere. One reason is because, in general, the virus is not a highly fever-producing virus. In very few cases is one producing a fever and when one has a fever, one feels unwell, probably not go out into the street, “says Dr. Gutiérrez.

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“Only 10% of those who transmit the virus and infect have a fever. So we would be catching a very small group of people,” says Dr. Rosselli about this.

Oximeters: measure oxygen saturation

There is a medical device that can be put on a finger and measures the oxygenation level in the blood. Low oxygen saturation is a possible symptom among covid-19 patients. It is considered low oxygen if it is between 95 and below.

covid-19 oximetersDoes it work against covid-19?


“It is rare, very rare, that a person has what is called sweet hypoxia, that is, that he is already desaturating and that he is walking as if nothing else. No, that is very rare,” explains Huerta.

In addition, there are the asymptomatic, as Gutiérrez explains: “One does not necessarily have covid with respiratory problems.”

This applies to other measures that look for symptoms.


Banks, supermarkets, restaurants, and other public establishments are using plastic or plexiglass barriers to promote distance and separate spaces.

cure covid-19Does it work against ecovid-19?

“Yes, any barrier method works,” says Gutiérrez. Explain that what can be used to block droplets from one person’s breath from passing to another will prevent contagion. It is the principle by which masks work (proper and well fitted).

Don’t touch the elevator buttons with your fingers, use something else

Chopsticks, keys, elbow, whatever you have on hand. The elevator buttons – and other objects in high traffic places – worry us and we avoid touching them.

Does it work against covid-19?

Again, the key is to wash your hands after going out, when you touch surfaces, before touching your face, eating, etc.

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“They tell us that if the previous man sneezed on his hand and that he takes the contaminated hand to the elevator and then touches the button and someone else touches the button and brings the virus to his nose well … yes. But it is tremendously remote , tremendously remote, “says Dr. Gutiérrez.

contagion covid-19The surfaces of crowded places have always been the focus of infections, “it’s not that the elevator buttons have become dangerous right now,” says Gutiérrez.

So, yeah, again, wash your hands, both to avoid the remote probability of the virus, as well as other crap.

Disinfecting money also falls into this category: the bills and coins that are passed from hand to hand are vehicles of dirt and microorganisms, but perhaps disinfecting them is not such a good idea, because in addition to damaging the paper, the problem is not there.

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Take off your clothes when you get home and wear anti-fluid clothing

Does it work against covid-19?


Anti-fluid clothing does help prevent the virus from sticking to fabric. Those used by doctors and health personnel should not leave the hospital, as these people are exposed to high viral loads from covid-19 patients for long periods. It also works for people who are in busy environments. “But if one comes from the street and has to change clothes, no,” concludes Dr. Rosselli.

“But the same if the virus sticks to clothing, then nothing happens, because the clothing does not jump because it has no mobility,” says Gutiérrez.

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“I could jump if I grab and just get home I shake my clothes in front of the whole family and they get that air. That is very unlikely for me to get infected,” he adds.

Not only does the virus need to be present, but there is a significant and concentrated viral load to be infected. If the virus is present on any surface, it may be degraded by handling, temperature, and even surface material.

A health worker sanitizes a woman who waits for a COVID-19 rapid antigen test at a temporary health tent in Mexico City, on February 12, 2021. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP via Getty Images)

What does work against covid-19?

Avoid crowds, privilege outdoor activities and not closed spaces, avoid meetings with many people and yes, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and wear masks.

Editor’s note: This note was originally published in February 2021 and updated in July 2021.



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