Circulating news that drinking lots of water can prevent transmission of the corona virus (COVID-19). The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends drinking more water because it can help keep the body hydrated, but WHO does not allow water to cure COVID-19.
In response to these rumors, BBC Future verified. Uploads shared on social media say that we have to make sure our mouth and throat are always moist, and drink water every 15 minutes. The logic is this will help wash the virus down the esophagus, so it can be killed by our stomach acid.
But this theory is refuted by clinical epidemiologists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Kalpana Sabapathy.
“It’s very simple, I can’t even accept it,” Kalpana Sabapathy was quoted as saying by BBC Indonesia, Friday.
Sabapathy explained that infections often begin after we have been exposed to thousands or millions of virus particles, so cleaning the esophagus with water is unlikely to have much impact.
“The drawback of this theory is that you have probably thrown everything (the virus) into the stomach. You might have gotten the virus in your nostrils at that time, for example – that’s not fool proof,” he said.
Herein lies another major weakness in the idea. Even if the virus has not been able to find its way in the cells of your respiratory tract, it can also enter the body in other ways.
While some people may become infected by touching their mouths with contaminated fingers, the virus can also enter the body by touching the nose or eyes. However, it is not considered as the main transmission route.
Instead, the main risk is from inhaling tiny granules containing thousands of virus particles after someone coughs or sneezes – either directly or when the virus stays in the air afterwards. And there are other reasons why the technique of drinking water might not work.
You would think that, once COVID-19 particles enter your stomach, they will be killed immediately.
However, stomach acid has a pH of between one and three; about as strong as battery acid, which is capable of dissolving steel. A few years ago, scientists discovered how to use it as a resource.
According to one report, more than 50 percent of people with COVID-19 have a virus in their feces, where the virus lasts long after being cleansed from the lungs.
Until now, there has been no scientific research on whether drinking water can prevent COVID-19 infections, so this technique is not based on science or facts.
Sabapathy said that, although telling people to keep their mouths wet and drinking water every 15 minutes might sound harmless, it is important to stop this kind of misleading advice quickly. The danger lies in the false sense of security that it provides.
“People will think that by doing that, they will be fine,” he said. “This diverts them from a message that is far more important,” he said.
Incredible evidence shows that the best approach to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid unnecessary social contact and keep washing your hands.