Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 5, 2020

No, a Lysol label doesn’t prove the coronavirus isn’t new

If Your Time is short

  • There are seven kinds of coronaviruses that can infect humans and some of the viruses are common. 
  • The strain of coronavirus spreading from Wuhan, China, is categorized as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 
  • Lysol says some of its surface cleaning products, including its disinfectant spray, have been effective against viruses “similar to” 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
 

Many social media users are sharing posts that suggest health officials are lying when they claim ignorance about the recent coronavirus outbreak, such as this one from Jan. 31

"Don’t fall for the B.S. they claim the Coronavirus is new… But regular over the counter Lysol has it listed as one of the viruses that it kills!" the post says. It shows one image of someone holding a Lysol disinfectant spray can, and another of what looks like the back of the can, where the words "Human Coronavirus" appear. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

We’ve already debunked several hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus, including one that’s similar to the claim in this Facebook post: that Clorox bottles prove the coronavirus was developed before the recent outbreak in China.

Here’s what you should know. 

Featured Fact-check

There are seven kinds of coronaviruses that can infect humans. They were first identified in the mid-1960s and some of the viruses are common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The strain of coronavirus spreading from Wuhan, China, is categorized as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). According to the World Health Organization, a novel coronavirus  is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019 strain was first reported from Wuhan on Dec. 31. 

As of Feb. 4, more than 20,000 cases have been confirmed globally. Deaths total 426, with only one occurring outside of China.

Some cleaning product labels mention "human coronavirus" because those surface products have been proven effective against past strains of coronavirus. On its website, Lysol has a section dedicated to the coronavirus. It says that specific Lysol products, including its disinfectant spray, "have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Novel coronavirus (2019-n-CoV) on hard, non-porous surfaces." (Again, this is only when used to clean surfaces; such products should never be ingested!)

This Facebook post falsely assumes that because the label for Lysol disinfectant spray includes mention of its effectiveness against "coronavirus," media descriptions of a current outbreak as being caused by a new virus are "B.S." But that assumption is wrong. The Lysol spray has demonstrated effectiveness against past strains of coronavirus. The current outbreak spreading from Wuhan, China, is caused by a previously unidentified strain known as the 2019 Novel coronavirus. Cleaning products that list coronavirus on their labels are not referring to this strain.

We rate this Facebook post False.

Daniel Funke contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Jan. 31, 2020

PolitiFact, Fact-checking hoaxes and conspiracies about the coronavirus, Jan. 24, 2020

PolitiFact, Clorox bottles don’t prove the coronavirus was ‘developed’ before the outbreak, Jan. 30, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Human coronavirus types, Jan. 10, 2020 

World Health Organization, Coronavirus, visited Feb. 5, 2020

World Health Organization, Novel coronavirus, visited Feb. 5, 2020

World Health Organization, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation report - 15, Feb. 4, 2020

Clorox, Clorox disinfecting wipes, visited Feb. 5, 2020

Lysol, Understanding the coronavirus, visited Feb. 5, 2020

FactCheck.org, No, Clorox and Lysol didn’t already ‘know’ about new coronavirus, Jan. 31, 2020

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No, a Lysol label doesn’t prove the coronavirus isn’t new

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