Does This List Show COVID-19 Treatments?

The list below has been circulating on WhatsApp among Kenyan users of the popular messenger app in the month of July purporting to show COVID-19 self-treatments and symptoms to look out for.

Among the treatments suggested are vitamins and alkaline foods.

Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) gave a guide for food and nutrition tips for those who are undergoing self-quarantine and isolation which includes recommendations on types of foods to consume for a healthy diet.

WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also notes, “There are no drugs or other therapeutics that have been approved for treating COVID-19. Current clinical management includes infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support when indicated.”

Verification

Vitamin C & E

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Vitamin C and E play an important role in immune functions. However, to claim that they can treat COVID-19 is medically unfounded. Guidelines on inpatient management from the Infectious Diseases Society of America do not mention treatment with vitamins.

Exposure to Sunlight & Eating Warm Food

The post’s recommendation to be exposed to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes daily suggests that either warm temperatures or vitamin D can treat/prevent COVID-19. Vitamin D like the other vitamins is good for boosting immunity.  As for warm food/drinks/warm weather, the CDC states that it is still unknown how the weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19.

Eggs

Eggs are a rich source of protein, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, all of which are good for your immune system as explained by WebMD. However, there is no evidence that it can treat/prevent COVID-19.

Rest

According to the Mayo Clinic lack of sleep can affect your immune system and that “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”

 1.5 Liter of Water Daily

The WebMD addressed a similar claim saying that drinking water frequently is healthy but it is “not an effective way to help prevent COVID-19. The suggestion is that drinking every 15 minutes would wash any virus down the oesophagus so it can’t get into our lungs. When we’re exposed, there are at least thousands of viruses that we come into contact at any given time. It’s highly unlikely you would wash all that virus down your throat and ultimately into your stomach. The primary way the virus is transmitted is through respiratory droplets in the air, directly into the respiratory system. Chances are that some of that virus would have already made its way into your nose before you start drinking water. Plus, we often contaminate ourselves by touching our nose, allowing the virus to immediately enter our respiratory tract.”

Alkaline Diet

The post provides a list of “alkaline” foods that are in fact acidic.  pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral. pH of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base.

The pH levels given for the foods listed in the claim are inaccurate.

  • Lemon is acidic is with a pH level of about 2.0-2.6 and not 9.9
  • Avocado is slightly acidic with a pH of 6.3-6.6, not 15.6
  • Mango is acidic, with a pH level of 5.8-6.0, not 8.7
  • Pineapple is acidic, with a pH level of 3.2-4.0, not 12.7
  • Garlic is acidic, with a pH level of 5.8, not 13.2
  • Orange is acidic, with a pH level of 3.4-4.3, not 9.2
  • Tangerine is acidic, with a pH level of about 3.9, not 8.5
  • Watercress is slightly acidic with a pH level of 6.5-7.5, not 22.7

This particular claim was lifted from a 1991 study published in the Journal of Virology with the title ‘Alteration of the pH Dependence of Coronavirus-Induced Cell Fusion: Effect of Mutations in the Spike Glycoprotein’. The abstract of the study mentions that it is about coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus type 4 (MHV4). COVID-19 is a new strain.

COVID-19 Symptoms

While most of the symptoms listed in the claim are genuine, COVID-19 symptoms vary widely and some patients never develop symptoms (asymptomatic).

Verdict

The list of COVID-19 treatments circulating online is misleading.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.