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Pseudo-science and miracle cures peak amid pandemic

Posted May 2nd, 2020, 09:56 AM IST

Pseudo-science and miracle cures peak amid pandemic

Self-styled godman Paramahamsa Nithyananda is after all not the only man on earth who can come up with nonsensical and pseudo-scientific claims of making the cows speak in Tamil and Sanskrit, delaying the sun to rise by 40 minutes, discovering over 400 esoteric powers expressible by humans or opening his third eye for anyone, free of charge in 2021.

On 23rd April, US President Donald Trump suggested that “injection inside” the human body with a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol could help combat the virus. While most people laughed it off as yet another moronic exhibition by the 45th President of the United States, some Americans took the ‘suggestion’ seriously, much to the consternation of the various global disinfectant brands who pleaded with people not to inject themselves with those. Then, closer home, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao came up with the “paracetamol” cure for Coronavirus. “There is no need to panic about Coronavirus. Just paracetamol is enough for it,” he is reported to have said. “The virus cannot survive in temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius.” It just left many flabbergasted.



When sense leaves the building

Ever since the Coronavirus outbreak, leaders of all hues have come up with bizarre suggestions to ward off the killer virus — most of which has stunned people at large. While Chakrapani Maharaj, head of the Hindu Mahasabha, has been peddling the gaumutra (cow urine) cure, Baba Ramdev has claimed that Ayurvedic remedies can cure Coronavirus.

Even CM Yogi Adityanath of UP went on record stating that diseases such as blood pressure, heart attack and even coronavirus can be prevented if a person overcomes mental stress. So what happens when politically powerful men in the world make suggestions seemingly without regarding their consequences, which includes the risks to the lives of those who take those words as suggestions and use those unproven, mostly dangerous ‘treatments’.

After Trump’s repeated claims of using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs that he endorsed in treating the coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration in the US had to warn people that both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythms in Coronavirus patients, and that they have resulted in some deaths, too.

Padma Shri Dr K.K. Aggarwal, who’s the president of the Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania, and the president of the Heart Care Foundation of India, spoke strongly against such dangerously misleading suggestions.

“Trump is making the same mistake Amitabh Bachchan made while talking about mosquitos. He shared a video on his post and referred to the study by The Lancet, peer-reviewed general medical journal, stating that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the faecal-oral route. He explained how faeces of a person can contain the COVID-19 days after his treatment, and that if a fly were to sit on it and then sit on eatables, then the transmission of the disease would be faster,” recollects the doctor. He further cautions, “Messages of medical advice must come from expert doctors, the World Health Organisation, the Centre for Disease Control or the Ministry of Health. Websites or individuals can share harmful messages. Injecting disinfectants in the blood can kill; there have even been past references where dubious doctors have given IV injections of alcohol to patients with sepsis, with no effect.”

Know your experts

Dr Chaitanya Challa of the Challa Nursing home also cautions people, advising them to lend ears only to experts — health organisation, good doctors and healthcare professionals — on the frontlines.

“Avoid lots of meaningless WhatsApp forwards. Unfortunately, we also have Page 3 people who consider themselves experts advising about COVID-19. The best advisors are internal medicine and critical-care consultants,” warns Dr Chaitanya. “Even homeopathy and Ayurveda have no significance in this infection. A skin disinfectant is only for the skin and should not be injected. It can actually kill.”

Even Dr Manjula Anagani, who’s a gynaecologist, says that only doctors who’re frontline warriors, working and dealing with cases should offer expert opinions. “These doctors are daily dealing with the gravity of the real situations and their treatment. So they need to talk about dealing with it, problems and repercussions of treatment options, testing facilities, fallacies, reliability of tests, dealing with false negatives, availability of PPEs and patient load and symptomatology, etc.,” she adds.

Dr Ashwin Tumkur, Senior Consultant and Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals, is shocked at how baseless assertions have been spreading as rampantly as the virus.

“As a doctor, I must be clear to my patients and people that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route) for treating anything and certainly not for treating Coronavirus,” he warns. “These agents are very toxic and can cause adverse outcomes, including death. Be very careful of such improper health messaging and follow only recommendations and guidelines laid down by approved healthcare bodies, which are based on scientific data.”

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