In Bolivian city, a fake and toxic coronavirus cure proves popular

WION Web Team
Sucre, Bolivia Published: Jul 18, 2020, 10:21 AM(IST)

Chlorine Dioxide Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

This rush in the city of Cochabamba comes even after the Bolivian Health Ministry warned of its dangers and said at least five people were poisoned after taking chlorine dioxide in the capital city.

In one of the Bolivian cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, chlorine dioxide, a toxic bleaching agent has been falsely vouched for as a cure for COVID-19 and several other diseases.

This rush in the city of Cochabamba comes even after the Bolivian Health Ministry warned of its dangers and said at least five people were poisoned after taking chlorine dioxide in the capital city.

One of these five incorrectly believed he had COVID-19 and developed pneumonitis, an inflammation of lung tissue, after taking chlorine dioxide and a medication used to treat parasite infestations. 

Cochabamba has reported about 440 deaths from COVID-19, or one-quarter of the total number of reported deaths in Bolivia. The real toll is believed to be higher.

Bolivia's opposition-controlled congress is promoting the use of chlorine dioxide. The Senate approved a bill authorising the emergency “manufacture, marketing, supply and use of chlorine dioxide solution for the prevention and treatment of coronavirus" last week. The bill would require the approval of interim President Jeanine Áñez, who is in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.

Many fearful residents in Cochabamba, where opposition support is strong, are giving chlorine dioxide a try.

The governor of Cochabamba state said she supports a plan for a state law authorising the use of chlorine dioxide and traditional medicine to treat COVID-19. Cochabamba's mayor also said he favours the free distribution of the bleaching agent to treat patients.

But the president of the Cochabamba's scientific association said there are old beliefs that the toxic substance is “miraculous" and cures cancer, AIDS, malaria and other diseases, “but there is no scientific study that proves that it cures any disease."

Chlorine dioxide is one of a number of fake cures that have been promoted, often by fringe groups online, since the pandemic began.

In April, a federal judge in South Florida ordered a Colombia-based group, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to stop selling a related product, Miracle Mineral Solution, as a treatment for COVID-19, autism and other ailments.

The US Food and Drug Administration has previously issued public warnings that MMS can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and severe dehydration.

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