COVID-19, Fact Checking

Six FALSE covid-19 remedies

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Translator: Ruben Acevedo Rodríguez

“One day I asked permission to a Police officer to go into the beach and bring me three gallons of seawater because they say it kills the virus, and many people here are doing seawater gargles,” a neighbor of Nosara told La Voz de Guanacaste last April.

This and other home remedies roam the social networks and “boca a boca” on the street. While some may seem useful or harmless, they do not cure the virus, and some may have a negative effect on people’s health.

In fact, there is still no vaccine or medicine that cures COVID-19, as confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Scientists around the world, including a group of Costa Ricans, are researching the development of vaccines and medicines to prevent and to treat Covid-19, but the most developed ones are still in the testing phases.

These are some of those remedies that you may have received through WhatsApp or told by a family member that could be harmful to your health or give you a false sense of security. We repeat: none of them can cure COVID-19.

In order to prepare this report we have relied on information from the following media partners of the Red LatamChequea: Chequeado, EfectoCucuyo,, Ecuador Chequea, Bolivia Verifica, NoComaCuento and La Silla Vacía.

1. Salt or seawater gargles

This remedy is assumed to work because the salt affects the acidity levels in the throat, which prevents COVID-19 infection.

The first posts with this statement appeared on Chinese social networks in early January, wrongly quoting scientist Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese doctor that first reported the virus. His medical team denied that he recommended a remedy.

It is not true that salt-water gargle changes the acidity levels in the throat. And even if you could change the acidity of your throat by gargling with saltwater, that would not prevent a COVID-19 infection either.

2. Disinfect your body with chlorine or alcohol

The WHO explains that disinfecting the body is not a way to cure people who are already infected. “Spraying the whole body with alcohol or chlorine does not have the effect of killing the viruses that have already entered the body,” the organization replied in its advice section.

On the contrary, their use on the body can be dangerous, because it can damage the skin, eyes, mouth or nose.

The organization’s guidelines remained constant hand washing with soap and water, as well as a two-meter distance between people.

3. Drinking hot tea infusions

It does not matter if it is aniseed, chamomile, ginger or lemon tea; drinking water or hot teas to kill the virus has no scientific basis.

The promoters supposed that this false remedy kills the virus at high temperatures, but no studies specifically for COVID-19 support this information.

In any case, the Spanish Society of Doctors in Primary Medicine assures that the use of liquids has nothing to do with the process of infection (of the virus),so drinking hot beverages is not going to kill the coronavirus.

4. Taking a shower with heated water 

This false claim is also based on the belief that body heat can prevent infection. However, there is no compelling evidence that the SARS CoV-2 virus (which causes 19-COVID disease) does not survive heat.

And also, the body temperature does not change with hot water baths, so this treatment would not be effective.

This idea is also dangerous, because showering in water that is too warm can cause skin burns and other injuries.

5. Drinking chlorine dioxide diluted in water

Be extremely careful with this fake news! Chlorine dioxide is a prohibited and very dangerous substance.

The WHO has not released any information to ensure that chlorine dioxide is a cure for the coronavirus.

Also, theUnited States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), claims that its consumption produces dangerous effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, poisoning and kidney failure. And it has no proven medical benefit.

6. Drink Coffee

A WhatsApp chain of messages that circulates in Costa Rica and other countries claims that drinking three cups a day of tea or coffee can cure or prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The network says that methylxanthine, theobromine and theophylline, substances that are present in coffee, energy drinks and chocolate, cure the new coronavirus.

However, this allegation is false. These substances have no healing properties over the COVID-19.