Beware of false claims of COVID-19 cure

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    EVERYBODY’S prayer now is for a vaccine to stop, if not totally eradicate, the novel coronavirus that has been ravaging mankind since late last year.

    The world’s science community is pooling resources to produce the vaccine. In the Philippines, President Duterte is offering P50 million for Filipino scientists who could develop the vaccine to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

    While scientist have yet to find a cure, malevolent minds are busy taking advantage of the situation by spreading falsehoods. VERA Files has monitored and debunked a number of them. Here are two of those falsehoods:

    1. Drinking warm water with salt will kill the virus that causes COVID-19. That is false: https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-video-claiming-drinking-water-salt-kil

    This claim was being shared in Facebook (FB) Live videos showing a certain Boyet Castelo, a self-proclaimed COVID-19 patient who, however, admitted he had not yet seen a doctor at the time he went live to share the home remedy.

    On April 19, contradicting his acknowledgment that there is still no cure against the virus, he said the salt water concoction will “heal” a person with the disease, adding the solution cured him of his COVID-19 symptoms.

    Three days later, he went on FB Live again and repeated his claim that the salt “will kill the virus in one’s body.” He also repeatedly said “there is nothing to lose” in trying the method.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines told VERA Files in an email that while some home remedies may “provide comfort” and alleviate COVID-19 symptoms, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. It added that clinical trials are ongoing for both traditional and western medicine.

    Castelo’s videos have been seen by more than 2.5 million and shared more than 135,000 times.

    1. Another false claim about COVID-19 is bizarre. On March 26, Gemz Channel published on YouTube a two-minute-long video titled, “New born baby bumangon at nagsalita | ang sinabi na ba nya ang gamot sa sakit na kumakalat ngayon? (Newborn baby stood up and talked | Is what the baby said the cure to the disease that’s currently spreading?)”

    The video featured the front seat view of someone driving along an expressway at night. For the first 55 seconds, a woman could be heard speaking in a mix of Filipino and English. Upbeat music was overlaid on the visuals for the rest of the clip.

    The woman claimed that in her hometown of Aparri in Cagayan province, a baby stood up immediately after being born and said, “Kakain kayo ng nilagang itlog (You will eat hard-boiled eggs).” The infant supposedly died right after. The woman then said “there is nothing wrong if we try to eat eggs” just as the baby instructed, and told her viewers to “spread the news.”

    Aside from Gemz Channel, at least four other Youtube channels (kahibol ate rhuvy, Pure Bisaya, Mari vlogs, and Rona Dew Fusion), two Facebook (FB) pages (ALL RIGHT and OFW Tambayan TV), and two netizens published posts carrying claims similar to the viral videos.

    A few mentioned a different place where the incident took place, like in Malaysia or in Samar province, while others even detailed the way the egg should be prepared and eaten.

    The Filipino versions of the fake claim uploaded on Youtube now have an accumulated total of almost 1.4 million views. The FB posts, on the other hand, were shared over 3,700 times and got around three thousand reactions and three thousand comments. Meanwhile, Philnews.ph’s article received over 500 interactions on FB, and could have reached almost half a million social media users.

    VERA Files’ fact check showed the claim is untrue, and the story about the “speaking” newborn baby was recycled from an Indonesian hoax.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) refuted the viral claim. “There is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating eggs has protected people from the new coronavirus,” WHO Philippines said in an email to VERA Files Fact Check.

    So as not to be duped by all these false claims, exercise caution in sharing claims of cure for COVID-19 in social media. Visit factcheck.ph or verafiles.org to check false claims going around in social media.

    In the absence of a vaccine, the best way we can avoid catching the virus is by practicing what doctors tell us: wash hands, stay home, eat well, sleep well, maintain social distancing, wear masks.

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