“Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?” A woman asked her husband. The stuff she was pointing to was a jar of fish tank cleaner which contains chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as part ingredients.
Three days earlier, President Trump and his friends at Fox News had touted both drugs as a game changer for curing covid-19 and the drugs began flying off the shelves of drug stores in America and around the world.
Guess what the couple did? Yep, they decided to drink the chemical. Within minutes, both of them became dizzy and started vomiting. The husband lost his life but doctors were able to save his wife.
On a visit to a neighbour, I saw an assortment of stuff on his table, ginger, tumeric, beetroot and a cup of steaming water. “What are these about?” I asked.
“Oh, My wife said they are immunity boosters against the virus”, he said confidently. Once am done, I will be heading to ShopRite to get some chloroquine and antibiotics.”
I was astounded. His wife is not a medical doctor. The wife was just a tale bearer like many others who are transmitting hear say information from social media.
Here are some myths that have been debunked by the World Health Organization and America’s Centre for Disease Control.
Gargling warm water
There is no evidence that gargling warm water with salt or vinegar “eliminates” the coronavirus, a claim that has gone viral as part of a meme — the one with the glowing blue man — in multiple languages. It suggests that the coronavirus lingers in the throat for days before it reaches the lungs, and that a good gargle can stop the virus in its tracks.
Drinking water frequently.
Some social media posts suggest that if you sip water every 15 minutes or so, you can protect yourself from the virus — which, in this scenario, has made its way to your mouth — by flushing it into your stomach. The idea here is that it wouldn’t enter your trachea, which leads to the lungs. But that’s false. Staying hydrated is a good idea generally, and the C.D.C. says that healthy people can get their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and with meals. But there is no evidence that frequent sips keep the virus from entering the lungs.
Blasting hot air
A video that has been shared on Facebook claims that the virus cannot survive in hot temperatures. It shows a woman aiming a hair dryer at her face with the goal of heating her sinuses to the “coronavirus kill temperature” of 133 degrees. Elsewhere on social media, people have suggested that hand dryers can kill the virus. But there is no clear evidence that this works. According to the World Health Organization, the virus cannot be killed by hand dryers, and it appears that it can survive in hot temperatures (and in cold temperatures).
There is some research indicating that warming the nasal passage might help the immune system combat a virus. But breathing near steam — like sitting over a bowl of hot soup — is a much better idea than aiming a hair dryer at your face.
Getting some sun.
It is not yet known what effect sunlight or ultraviolet light has on the new coronavirus. And if the virus is already reproducing inside of a human body, ultraviolet light — from the sun or from a lamp — can’t reach it.
A walk in the sunshine might be good for your mental and physical health if you practice social distancing. And there is evidence that ultraviolet light can inactivate viruses, including flu viruses, particularly in laboratory settings.
Taking your vitamins.
Social media is full of suggestions about taking additional vitamins C is a popular one — and ingesting things like garlic, pepper, mint or elderberry. But there is little evidence that these foods and supplements can protect you in any consistent or significant way.
Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, hasn’t shown a consistent benefit for treating or preventing illnesses like the common cold. And as with many things, it can be harmful in large doses. “Do not take large quantities of an antioxidant knowing that your body needs to maintain a balance.
Garlic may have some antimicrobial properties, but there is no evidence that it has protected people from the coronavirus.
In short, vitamins and nutrients can be good, especially if they come from a balanced diet. But they can’t be relied upon to protect people from a pandemic.
So what should we do?
“Sound preparation, based on scientific evidence, is what is needed at this time,” said Mr. Tidey, of UNICEF.
The C.D.C. offers the following guidance on what you can do to minimize your chances of contracting the virus: Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face and practice social distancing. You can also protect others by covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, staying home when sick and disinfecting surfaces.
Sources: New York Times, CDC and WHO myth busters site. (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters)