If you snort cocaine, you’re going to get super high; if you drink bleach, you’re going to get super sick — and if you do either of those things and come in contact with the novel coronavirus, you’re still likely to get COVID-19.
Health officials are trying to swat down some truly wild “tips” for avoiding the novel coronavirus on social media, where viral memes and conspiracy theorists are peddling all kinds of bogus “cures.”
One widely circulated rumour shows cocaine and a breaking news TV banner claiming that it protects against the virus.
“No, cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19,” France’s health ministry tweeted on Sunday, in response to doctored memes suggesting otherwise. “It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people’s health.”
The false rumour appears to have been generated on a website that allows users to create their own fake breaking news images, according to the Poynter Institute’s fact-checking site, Politifact. The bag of cocaine appears to be a stock image, and the news generator website’s watermark appears to have been blurred out.
Some users have also been pushing various snake-oil cures containing harmful products. QAnon conspiracy theorist Jordan Sather, for example, claimed in January that chlorine dioxide “can wipe out coronavirus.” His tweet pushing that theory has been shared more than 2,000 times.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously warned against drinking chlorine dioxide, a common bleaching agent, for any reason. However, the FDA came out with a fresh warning about drinking it to kill the novel coronavirus last January in response to viral claims.
“We understand people are concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus and we urge people to talk to their health-care provider about treatment options as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness,” the agency said.
It added that Sather’s so-called “Miracle Mineral Solution” will not cure COVID-19.
When it comes to the novel coronavirus, bleach is good for one thing: disinfecting surfaces.
“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
The warnings have already generated plenty of mockery online.