As the novel coronavirus that started in Wuhan, China continues its worrisome spread, so does misinformation about it.
Today’s novel misinformation—spreading faster than the virus itself based on the number of posts about it—is from promoters of QAnon, a complicated political conspiracy theory. The promoters, according to a report in The Daily Beast, are hauling out their recommendation that people drink a substance called Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, to ward off the virus. That “miracle” solution, when prepped as recommended, turns into bleach.
In case we need to spell it out, don’t drink that. The FDA explains that it can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration and acute liver failure. And there’s no evidence it can do anything to prevent this novel coronavirus.
It’s not the first time QAnon adherents have been encouraged to drink the stuff; it’s been touted as a treatment for everything from autism to flu to HIV/AIDS to hepatitis. The FDA received so many reports about damage from drinking this bleach solution last year that it put out a warning about the dangers last August.
So what should you be doing to keep from contracting this virus? It’s natural to want to do something dramatic, but the big thing you can do is wash your hands. With soap. For 20 seconds. The CDC also recommends staying at home when you’re sick, covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough and then disposing of the tissue, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. (Don’t forget about your phone.)
Coronaviruses are believed to be spread by touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. They are distributed in the air through coughing and sneezing and, the CDC adds, by touching or shaking hands with an infected person.
So to keep the virus and the illness from spreading, use all these standard-sounding but best-we-have prevention strategies. And try this one: Do what you can to avoid spreading misinformation, too.