Dangers of fake Covid-19 treatments in Latin America
With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, many developing countries are facing high infection and mortality rates as the months of quarantine pile on and governments struggle to keep matters under control. Countries in Latin America have been hit hard by the pandemic and people are desperate to not only stay safe, but they are also looking for a way to go back to their normal lives.
This has led to the rise of fake cures and treatments for the coronavirus. Many people that can’t afford to seek medical attention, or simply are looking for a preventive measure to avoid contracting Covid-19 are flooding alternative medicine that is not backed by any official organizations nor have been tested to treat the disease. These methods could be dangerous and even deadly. In Tacna, Peru a mother and her daughter died by affixation during a home treatment to fight the coronavirus. The mother and daughter attempted to create a vapor room infused with eucalyptus, this failed when the they started to inhale the smoke generated by the wood they used to heat up the infused water.
Recently, a new trend has popped up on social media platforms, sellers and pushers of chloride sodium and chlorine dioxide. It takes a quick Facebook search of the term “clorito” to be bombarded with numerous posts either selling or glorifying these chemicals. A recent post from July 24 by Rosario Loayza from Peru estates that “La mejor para prevenir y curarte el COVI, DIÓXIDO DE CLORITO. lo quieren desacreditar porque esta en contra de la farmaindustria.” Essentially arguing that these chemicals are the ultimate solution for treating Covid-19 and those who oppose it are just pro big pharma.
Scrolling down, we can now see a post from July 29 offering the sale of a package deal of chloride sodium and chlorine dioxide. One could expect a product such as this to be sold by a pharmacy, but no, the product is being advertised by a convenience store named Colectivo Sanisima, located in a border town in Mexico. The item showed in the post has no sanitary registration number in plain sight. A quick search from the Mexican sanitary registries with the product name leads to no results. The only identifying text is a generic email address printed on the label. The email is not frequently used online, and it’s not associated with a known business in Facebook.
This has become a big enough concern that government institutions are publicly advising people to not use these products. The Ecuadorian Ministry of Health came out with several tweets on July 12 warning their citizens to not use chloride sodium and chlorine dioxide as a miracle treatment for Covid-19. One of the tweets also contains information about poison control in case of intoxication from the substances. Similarly, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health tweeted an alert that products containing these chemicals are not recommended as treatments against Covid-19.
These problems have reached the USA as well. In an article from April 8th, the FDA warns against the deadly effect these substances could cause. In a mild form of intoxication, the symptoms can include severe vomiting and diarrhea. At worse, chloride sodium and chlorine dioxide can cause respiratory and heart failure.
Beyond the immediate danger of taking these products, there is a false sense of safety that can be dangerous. They believe that these products will protect them against COVID-19 when it can potentially expose them to the disease or leave them believ