An Australian church has been fined $151,200 AUS (about $97,774 USD) for selling bleach and touting it as a treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, ABC News (Australia) reported.
The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing has for years been touting Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) as a cure for various ailments, such as cancer, acne, autism, diabetes, and lately, COVID-19. Specifically, it's been sold on the church's website as "water purification drops."
Miracle Mineral Solution is nothing more than chlorine dioxide, or industrial bleach. The substance is not approved for human consumption in Australia or the United States.
Nevertheless, members of the church, of which the Australian Genesis II is merely a chapter of a larger, worldwide organization, seem to believe so strongly in it that, according to a companion ABC News report, a leader of the movement claimed he had written to U.S. President Donald Trump about the cure.
"There is so much evidence proving it is a wonderful detox through oxidation that kills 99 per cent of the pathogens in the body, that is why we have so many testimonies," Archbishop Mark Grenon said.
Days later, Trump gave a press conference in which he appeared to insinuate that consuming bleach could miraculously clear COVID-19, although he later claimed that he was joking. Joking or not, health experts warned consumers not to drink bleach. It bears noting that there is absolutely no evidence that Trump was spurred to make his remarks by Grenon, or indeed, if Trump even read Grenon's letter.
Last week, following its own investigation into the church's supposed touting of bleach as a COVID-19 cure, the Australian news network notified the country's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which in turn launched its own investigation.
On Wednesday, the agency announced that it had fined the church the hefty sum.
"The TGA considered both the claims found directly on the website along with content found through links, including videos and testimonials in its assessment," said an agency spokesperson.
The agency also noted that the church is still selling bleach-containing products on its website, and still touting them as miracle cures for COVID-19 and other ailments. Indeed, a website purportedly belonging to the church does offer multiple products containing MMS for sale, under the heading "Sacraments."
Associate Professor Ken Harvey, a public health expert, would like the Australian government to go further and completely ban the sale of MMS in Australia.
"Deaths have occurred, serious admissions to hospital from this particular substance," he said.