There is no known treatment or cure for COVID-19, but some people are hitting their pantry to create their own false remedies.
Since January, we’ve fact-checked more than 100 claims about the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of which are inaccurate or misleading. From taking large amounts of vitamin C to drinking silver solution, some of the most widespread misinformation has been about how to fend off new infections — and it ignores guidance from public health officials.
The best ways to avoid the novel coronavirus remain to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face, disinfect surfaces in your home daily, and avoid people who are sick. And according to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 patients with mild cases can alleviate symptoms with cough medicine, pain and fever relievers, rest and fluids.
In the absence of a known cure, online misinformation has flourished. So we rounded up 19 claims about how to treat and prevent the coronavirus that we’ve rated False or Pants on Fire! If you see something else you want fact-checked, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Gargling with salt water
Neither drinking a lot of water, nor gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar, has been identified as working against the coronavirus. It might, however, help your sore throat.
2. Slow it down with quick hits of Vitamin C
While vitamin C may slightly help ward off common illnesses, there is no evidence high doses of the supplement can slow or stop the current coronavirus.
3. Breathe in steam from water boiled with orange peels and cayenne pepper
Clearing out your sinuses will definitely not make you less likely to catch COVID-19 — or cure you if you are sick. And there’s no evidence that orange peels or cayenne contain any healing properties, either.
4. Drink water to kill the virus
While health experts recommend drinking water regularly to stay healthy, there is no evidence that sipping some every 15 or 20 minutes can help prevent coronavirus infection. The primary way the virus spreads is through close contact with infected people and respiratory droplets.
5. Go outside and lie in the sun
There’s evidence that human coronaviruses don’t like heat, and high-intensity UV light can kill viruses, but that doesn’t mean sun exposure kills the coronavirus. Neither the WHO nor the CDC has said it’s effective against the virus.
6. Drink hot water with lemon slices
While health officials recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, there is no evidence that drinking hot lemon juice kills COVID-19. A similar version of the hoax has been shared in India and Italy.
7. Take chloroquine fish-tank cleaner
Fish-tank cleaners containing chloroquine cannot be substituted for prescription drugs used to treat malaria. The FDA says you should not take chloroquine unless it has been prescribed by a doctor and obtained from a legitimate source.
8. Drink silver solution
There are no pills or remedies that cure any strain of human coronavirus including COVID-19. In fact, “silver solution” and colloidal silver can hurt you, and not just your wallet. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning statements to companies promoting the products.
9. Hang up clothes in the sun
While air-drying your clothes may save you some money on your electricity bill, there is no evidence it will kill the coronavirus. Experts told us natural sunlight doesn’t provide the UV intensity needed to kill the virus, and the WHO says it can be transmitted in all climates.
10. Avoid consuming cold foods and drinks
This claim is baseless. Just as there’s no scientific proof that hot things prevent COVID-19, there’s no proof that cold things make you more susceptible. UNICEF and the WHO have debunked the claim on their websites.
11. Shave your beard
A 2017 CDC infographic shows how facial hair could interfere with respirator masks. The graphic is unrelated to coronavirus protection, and the CDC has not recommended that people shave their beards to ward off the virus.
12. Smoking marijuana
It isn’t true, bud. Even though marijuana is used sometimes to treat chronic pain, it’s likely to give users “short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning,” the CDC says, and it can be harmful for developing brains. So, maybe not helpful for the coronavirus.
13. Using cocaine
If there were a cure for the novel coronavirus, we wouldn’t count on it being a stimulant like cocaine. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that can lead to long-term respiratory problems and movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
14. Drinking bleach
This type of “cure” is dangerous and should not be taken seriously. The FDA has released multiple warnings about the “dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects” of the solution, such as vomiting and liver failure. Officials urge people not to drink it.
15. Wearing a medical mask with the white side out
While some social media posts say the white side of the mask contains a filter, it’s actually for moisture absorption from your mouth and nose. Take it from global health agencies and medical mask producers: wear the colored side of the mask on the outside.
16. Chloroquine as a surefire treatment
A French study of 20 COVID-19 patients indicates the drug, which is prescribed to prevent or treat malaria, might help treat the coronavirus. But it is no “100% cure.” U.S. health officials stress the evidence from a small French study is only anecdotal and that much more study is needed.
17. Avoiding hand sanitizer
Although it is not effective against all viruses, hand sanitizers with high alcohol content have proven effective against human coronaviruses. While soap and water is preferred, officials recommend the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to kill the coronavirus.
18. Avoiding hair extensions
China is a major source of hair extensions, and the industry has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. But the FDA has found no evidence that the virus is spreading via imports.
Melanin is a natural pigment that gives color to skin and eyes. It does not make you any less susceptible to coronavirus.
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