Now come reports that hundreds of Iranians have been killed by drinking industrial-strength alcohol, believing and hoping that it is a cure or preventative for COVID-19 virus.
The Associated Press cites Iranian media reports which indicate widespread belief among Iranians that methanol (methyl alcohol) essentially immunizes people from the new virus. At this writing, nearly 300 people have died and 1,000 others have been sickened after ingesting this toxin. One Iranian doctor told the AP that the true numbers were probably closer to 480 and 2,850, respectively.
“Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here,” Dr. Hossein Hassanian, an adviser to Iran’s Health Ministry, said.
“We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus.”
Of course, drinking, selling or buying– possessing — alcohol has been strictly verboten in the Islamic Republic of Iran ever since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the overthrow of the Shah of Iran.
Still, ever since the Revolution and despite the severe strictures imposed by Iran’s governing mullahs, there has been vigorous black market commerce in bootlegged alcohol. Indeed, since the onset of this latest and devastating pandemic, untold numbers of people have reportedly been drinking alcohol made from methanol as a remedy or prophylactic for coronavirus.
As might be expected, the idea that methanol can treat COVID-19 began as a rumor via social media accounts and platforms which falsely stated that people were being cured of coronavirus with whiskey and honey. The initial rumor seems to have begun outside Iran: A British tabloid story about a school teacher there said that he/she had been cured by the whiskey/honey cocktail, according to the AP.
Add to this story anecdotal (but true) messages about the successful use of at least sixty percent alcohol-based hand sanitizers which kill the virus specifically because of their high alcohol content, and, well…many put two-and-two together and got ten: drinking high-octane alcohol would kill the bugs inside their bodies as well.
Methanol has no color, odor or taste, and can cause various organ failures, brain damage, chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness, coma — and death.
Amazingly, Dr. Hassanian also said that in some Iranian provinces, the number of people poisoned by the bootlegged alcohol has actually surpassed the number of people with COVID-19.
Dr. Knut Erik Hovda is a clinical toxicologist who warns that the number of methanol poisoning victims in Iran has only just begun: “The virus is spreading and people are just dying off, and I think they are even less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around,” Dr. Hovda said.
According to Johns Hopkins University (which has been providing the most reliable stats on the worldwide course of this plague), as of March 27, there were 32,332 cases of COVID-19 in Iran, including 2,378 fatalities and 11,133 recoveries from the virus. (Worldometers.info reports Iran’s total population as 83 million people as of January, 2020).
False Claims and Cures in the US
The US now has more COVID-19 cases than anywhere else on planet earth, surpassing both China (the virus’ geographical origin) and South Korea. (After China’s initial surge, South Korea quickly became the second hardest-hit nation).
And so it comes as no surprise that, just as in Iran, bogus prophylactics, treatments, cures and remedies likewise abound in the US–from “Dr.” Donald Trump’s lethal advice as to unproven and specious snake oil and drug admixtures, to a phony claim gone viral throughout social media that Standford University has endorsed a breath-holding regimen that instantly tests for and detects the presence of COVID-19.
Obviously and clearly, we must ignore any and all remedies or preventive measures that are not promulgated, vetted, and issued by qualified health professionals.
The most important and effective advisory to come down so far has been the nearly complete lock-down of the entire world (and the accompanying “social distancing” policy and practice) except for those private businesses, government agencies and functions considered absolutely “essential” for our continued survival.
But We Can Still Have A Drink In The US
The great irony in this story, though, is that, yes, alcohol is totally outlawed in Iran. But alcohol (of every description) is still not only legal in the US, but apparently it is also considered “essential” since liquor stores are not banned or barred or closed in any state, county, city or village that I am aware of.
So…it must be okay to have a drink, or two…or a few. But don’t expect it to do anything other than perhaps help one to momentarily forget that this virus even exists.