You cannot escape news about the coronavirus these days. It’s everywhere! This isn’t a surprise, as the pandemic has spread rapidly across the globe. However, as reports of coronavirus cases keep coming in, so does the steady stream of bogus claims on how to cure or prevent yourself from it.
For the record, the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) had issued an open letter, warning, “There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease.”
Despite these warnings, the hoax reports keep piling on. Since people are desperate for finding a cure to escape this disease, many of them latch on to any claim they can find, howsoever absurd they might be. While some of these claims are outright ridiculous, many are actually harmful and risky. Here, we have compiled some of the most absurd hoax cures to treat the novel coronavirus that should be completely avoided.
There have been plenty of social media posts in recent weeks claiming that eating garlic regularly will help prevent being infected by the coronavirus. That is untrue, however.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has stated that while garlic is "a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties", there's no evidence that eating garlic can protect people from the new coronavirus.
Eating garlic will be good for your health, undoubtedly. However, if you begin consuming it in large amounts, it might be harmful. There was a recent report of a woman who had to receive hospital treatment after she developed severe inflammation in her throat after consuming 1.5kg of raw garlic.
Thus, you should eat healthy food, but also be prudent about it. Most importantly, don’t depend on them to prevent you from being infected by the novel coronavirus.
There have been some truly bizarre and ill-advised home remedies doing the rounds for treating the coronavirus. Nothing perhaps will top this: a YouTube and Facebook videos claimed that blowing your nose and mouth with the hot air from a hairdryer will cure the novel coronavirus. These videos were widely popularized, and they actually detailed how to increase the temperature in your nasal cavity in order to kill the deadly virus using a handheld hairdryer. The videos have since been removed from official platforms, but are still being circulated on WhatsApp leading to much confusion.
While there have been reports of heat killing the virus, there has been nothing conclusive on this and medical professionals are still studying the theory. Blasting your nose with a hairdryer, though, might actually cause you great harm.
“You could easily burn or more likely cause superficial damage to your eye, nose, and mouth lining by trying to breathe in hot air, which promptly damages your first line of defense against infection — an intact lining,” says Dr. Jill Grimes, an urgent care doctor.
Image source - Wikimedia Commons
Another fake report on the coronavirus cure that has really caught on is that the virus can be stopped by gargling warm salt water. Apparently, the rumor was that the virus embeds itself in the throat for four days before lowering itself into the lungs. Gargling with warm water could hence kill it in the throat itself.
“It won’t stop it from getting into the lungs,” says Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “What it could do is decrease inflammation, which would make your throat less sore.”
So you can definitely gargle to keep your throat healthy, but don’t expect that it will keep you safe against the coronavirus.
Some reports emerged that gargling or drinking bleach or ethanol will eliminate the coronavirus from your body. While it hasn’t been confirmed where this hoax cure emerged from, some famous YouTubers with a large number of followers certainly made the theory popular by sharing videos on their channels, claiming that a "miracle mineral supplement", called MMS, can "wipe out" coronavirus.
Not only was this claim fake, but it was also incredibly dangerous.
This “miracle supplement” contains chlorine dioxide - a bleaching agent. The US Food and Drug Administration has already warned about the dangers to the health of drinking MMS. We must understand that chlorine dioxide is the active ingredient in disinfectants and is not meant to be swallowed by people no matter what anyone says. In fact, drinking these chlorine dioxide products can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, along with severe dehydration.
Image source - Wikimedia Commons
US televangelist Jim Bakker recently promoted the use of colloidal silver on his show, saying that the solution kills some strains of coronavirus within 12 hours. For those who may not know, colloidal silver is a suspension of tiny particles of silver in a liquid. That this substance could combat the novel coronavirus was widely shared on Facebook and Twitter, and the theory quickly became viral. In fact, many "medical freedom" groups were seen actively propagating this theory.
Health authorities have, however, clearly denied these claims and have stated that there's no evidence that this type of silver solution is effective for any health condition. In fact, the solution could cause serious side effects, such as kidney damage, seizures, and argyria (a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin). Furthermore, the FDA had issued a warning back in 1999 itself that colloidal silver isn’t safe or effective for treating any disease or condition.
Another weird hoax going around is that taking a hot bath can protect you from coronavirus. This is because your body temperature will be raised, and hence, the virus won’t affect you.
The World Health Organization, however, has refuted this claim. According to them, our normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of the bath or shower. They also add that taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can actually be harmful, as it can scald your skin.
"To actively kill the virus, you need temperatures of around 60 degrees [Celsius]", says Professor Bloomfield - that is far hotter than any bath.
Disinfectants are good for sanitizing your furniture and the various surfaces of your home. However, because of the coronavirus scare, many people have been reported to use different disinfectants like Lysol on their bodies in the hope to get rid of any coronavirus strains. It goes without saying that this is a bad and unsafe idea.
These disinfectants are not meant for the skin and can be hazardous if inhaled or ingested, and especially if they come in contact with eyes and skin. Thus, refrain from using any kind of disinfectant on your skin completely, no matter what claims you might have heard about their uses to fight any virus on social media.
A viral post on social media, which was shared by a number of people, stated that a "Japanese doctor" has recommended drinking water every 15 minutes to help flush out any virus that might have entered the mouth.
Drinking water regularly is quite good for the body, certainly. But can it help your body combat the deadly coronavirus? According to Professor Trudie Lang of the University of Oxford, you cannot just wash a respiratory virus down into your stomach and kill it and there is "no biological mechanism" to endorse that theory.
Coronaviruses enter the body via the respiratory tract when you breathe in. Some of these viruses can enter your mouth. However, drinking water constantly won’t stop you from getting infected by the virus.
Drink water and stay hydrated. But don’t expect any miraculous cure from it.
A spurious report surfaced online recently, saying that coronavirus can be treated with a 20-minute trip to the sauna. The report stated that staying inside the sauna will force the body to eliminate the virus through perspiration.
The theory is flawed, too, as there is no evidence to support it. One must also remember that right now people need to self-isolate to stop the spread of coronavirus. Stuffing yourself inside a cramped sauna with other people will be the opposite of that. Moreover, sweating inside a crowded sauna is also risky. “If they’re sweating in a sauna, they’re leaving stuff for other people,” says Dr. Katrina Armstrong, physician-in-chief of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, shortages of hand sanitizer gels have been reported from everywhere in the world. This was obvious, as washing your hands thoroughly has been stated as one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus by almost all health experts.
Now that stores are running short of hand sanitizers, there have been several posts on social media on recipes for home-made gels that can work equally well. However, many of these recipes were not suitable for the use on skin, according to scientists.
“A legit hand sanitizer needs to have at least 60% alcohol to be effective,” said Dr. Edwin Chng, the medical director of Parkway Shenton. Also, alcohol-based hand gels usually also contain emollients that are gentler on the skin. Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, a consultant with the Division of Infectious Diseases at National University Hospital, adds that “ingredients like essential oils don’t provide reliable protection from these viruses.”
So, basically, an effective product for sanitizing hands at home cannot easily be made. Remember that even vodka only contains 40% alcohol. If you do manage to make a sanitizing liquid at home with more than 60% alcohol, you will also have to ensure that the substance is gentle on your hands. Thus, be careful of following any recipe blindly.