Coronavirus Hoax: ‘Holding Breath’ Test, Drink Water Every 15 Minutes, & More

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Scientists are warning that a popular list of “tips” about the coronavirus contains incorrect data that will neither help diagnose nor prevent the disease. The list has gone viral on social media websites such as Facebook, leading to fears that a large swath of the public is operating under the false information.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the hoax claims that the suggestions have been published by a Stanford Hospital board member — a claim that the renowned university has vehemently denied.

“A widely distributed email about COVID-19 that is attributed to a ‘Stanford Hospital board member’ contains inaccurate information,” clarified Lisa Kim, a spokesperson for Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine.

“It did not come from Stanford Medicine,” she added.

The viral article contained two specific pieces of advice that doctors have emphasized do not work. The first is the claim that the coronavirus can be diagnosed by holding one’s breath. The other suggests that the virus can be killed by drinking water regularly to keep the throat moistened.

The hoax article follows other fake tips that have popped up on social media, such as drinking alcohol or silver solution.


False Claim No. 1: A Deep Breath Is A Legitimate ‘Self-Check’

doctor with stethoscope
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The first claim made in the viral article is that individuals can check themselves for COVID-19 by taking a deep breath.

“The new Coronavirus may not show sign of infection for many days. How can you know if you are infected? By the time you have fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, the lung is usually 50% fibrosis,” the article falsely warns.

The post then claims that those concerned about being infected should take a “deep breath” and hold it in for over 10 seconds. If able to do so without coughing or discomfort, there is supposedly “no fibrosis” in the lungs.

However, neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization has ever listed fibrosis as a symptom of COVID-19, per Snopes.

A medically accurate symptom of the coronavirus is pneumonia, which can in turn lead to scarring of the lungs. However, it is not possible for any such damage to happen to the lungs before displaying obvious symptoms — which would be serious enough to warrant more than an at-home “self check.”


False Claim No. 2: Drinking Water Will Kill The Virus

filling up water bottle
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The other incorrect claim made in the viral post suggests that drinking water every 15 minutes will help protect individuals from the coronavirus.

“Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus,” it read.

However, Professor Trudie Lang at the University of Oxford stated there is “no biological mechanism” that can actually flush a respiratory virus into the stomach to neutralize it, per the BBC.

Nevertheless, the fake advice continues to be spread, with an Arabic version of the article shared over 250,000 times.


False Claim No. 3: Drinking High Concentrations Of Alcohol Or Silver Can Kill The Virus

scientist with virus petri dish
Featured image credit: CDCUnsplash

Other hoax claims circulating the internet include drinking high concentrations of alcohol or silver. The latter has been further perpetuated by televangelist Jim Bakker, who is currently being sued by the state of Missouri for the false claims.

In addition, drinking high quantities of alcohol has not only been found to be completely ineffective, but incredibly dangerous, and several people have died in Iran from drinking bootleg liquor.

Meanwhile, doctors continue to emphasize that the best way to actually prevent the spread of coronavirus — which just infected Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson — is by washing hands and not touching the face.