Experts warn against fake coronavirus cures like 'Silver Solution' and 'miracle mineral solution' floating online
New York State Attorney General Letitia James recently ordered televangelist Jim Bakker to stop selling "Silver Solution" as a reliable treatment for the novel coronavirus, saying he was misleading New Yorkers by falsely advertising the effectiveness of the product. During a February 12 episode of his show, Bakker spoke to naturopathic doctor Sherill Sellman, who claimed the concoction -- which is available for sale on Bakker's website -- can cure strains of Covid-19, the New York Post reported.
However, there is no known FDA approved medicine or vaccine able to prevent or treat the deadly virus, per the World Health Organization. “Let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it waiting 12 hours,” Shellman claimed.
But the solution contains colloidal silver, which the US Department of Health and Human Services has deemed dangerous to one’s health, saying it can even cause “serious side effects.”
Lisa Landau, the chief of the state Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau wrote a letter to Bakker on March 3. “Your show’s segments may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak," she wrote. “Therefore, any representation on the Jim Bakker Show that its Silver Solution products are effective at combating and/or treating the 2019 novel coronavirus violates New York law."
Bakker has ten days to comply with the order or face penalties up to $5,000 per violation, per the report.
“As we experience more cases of coronavirus, it is imperative that New Yorkers remain calm, but stay vigilant,” AG James said in a statement Thursday. “In addition to being mindful about our health, we must also beware of unscrupulous actors who attempt to take advantage of this fear and anxiety to scam or deceive consumers. I encourage anyone who believes they are the victim of a scam or predatory action to contact my office and file a complaint."
Government leaders and health professionals across the globe are working hard to contain the outbreak that is on the verge of a pandemic. In addition, there are also forced to battle the scourge of half-truths and fake cures for the coronavirus online. According to The Washington Post, the threat is direr than ever on instant-messaging platform WhatsApp -- a service that is mostly hidden from public scrutiny -- owing to its vast global reach.
WhatsApp users in Nigeria, Singapore, Brazil, Pakistan, Ireland, and some other countries have complained of a barrage of misinformation circulating on the platform with regards to the number of people affected by the virus, how it's transmitted, as well as the availability of treatments. As a result, public health officials have urged people to be wary of what they're reading and sharing on the service.
Several annoyed recipients of such messages shared copies of the fake memos and cures with The Post, which revealed how the recirculated texts wrongly listed saltwater, garlic, and various types of teas as natural remedies for the outbreak without any supporting evidence. One of the most egregious claims to combat the virus is the consumption of a certain "miracle mineral solution," which has been deemed dangerous as it is basically industrial bleach.
"The 'miracle mineral solution,' as it's known online (MMS for short), is a solution of 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water," according to a report by Business Insider's Gabby Landsverk. While the solution is definitely not a cure for the virus, it is, in fact, dangerous to human health and can result in severe vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and even acute liver failure.
However, the World Health Organization has said "bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, ether solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid, and chloroform" are effective in killing the 2019-nCoV if used on contact surfaces. But if people put the chemicals on their skin or ingest them, it could prove detrimental to their health while having "little or no impact on the virus."
Several products to combat the coronavirus are being offered for sale online, including items such as a $10 "virus excluded" collar and a nasal spray that claims to be a "nose disinfectant."
And in light of businesses exploiting the global epidemic, social media platforms like Facebook have started cracking down on misleading information pertaining to virus cures. The move comes after several social media users blindly promoted fake cures for the coronavirus online, including claims that elderberry, zinc, onion, and fungi are effective against the contagion.
Michael Marshall of the charity Good Thinking Society noted how such fake products and cures can be "very seductive, especially if you are particularly at risk or are already suffering from something." "These things are incredibly unreliable to the point of being really dangerous, where people avoid real medicine to go for these homemade cures," he said. "The answer is to follow the advice of renowned medical experts, observe what the NHS and WHO say."