While China-origin coronavirus has killed more than 20,000 people in nearly 200 countries of the world, a rumour has killed 300 Iranians. The rumour that spread like a bushfire in Iran was that drinking methanol could cure people of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). About 1,000 fell for the gossip and they all fell ill while 300 of them succumbed to the toxic substance.
Some social media users turned the rumour viral in Iran. Due to little knowledge about COVID or biochemistry, more than a thousand Iranians consumed methanol without checking the facts.
It was claimed in the message that went viral on Iran’s social media users that a British school teacher and others had saved themselves from COVID by consuming whiskey and honey. Those forwarding the message added figments of their own imagination to it. Some identifiable drunkards in society who had still not contracted the disease were passed off as immune to COVID!
Drinking alcohol is otherwise banned in Iran. The government of Iran considers methanol a narcotic substance.
The news of deaths of Iranians from the drug substance methanol came at a time when Tehran had announced 144 new death cases already just a day ago. So far, 2,378 Iranians have died of COVID and the number of people infected with this virus has increased to 32,300 with 2,926 new cases.
Dr Knott Erik, who researches on methanol poisoning in Oslo, said that the virus was spreading among Iranians and people were dying of it fast. “I think they are less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around,” he said. He feared that the COVID epidemic in Iran could get worse.
The message “Drinking alcohol can prevent/cure coronavirus” is still spreading among Iranians. If they continue to consume it, many will report sick and/or die.
Till now, there is no known cure for COVID. About one-third of the world’s population is imprisoned in homes to avoid the outbreak. Scientists and doctors are constantly trying to make a vaccine to strengthen the human body from attacks by the virus.
Iran was among the first countries outside China that acquired the virus. The outbreak began from a construction site that had employed Chinese people.
Thereafter, the government of Iran failed to enforce a lockdown in the country. Then the army was deployed to drive back Iranians from the streets to their houses.
Facts Iranians did not know
It must be noted here that the consumable alcohol that is sold legally in markets is ethanol and not methanol. Methanol is useful only as an organic or industrial solvent. Consumption (ingestion) of this odourless and tasteless liquid can cause metabolic acidosis, neurologic sequelae and even death.
However, illicit and spurious liquor makers do add methanol to their product in developing countries, imperilling the lives of consumers. Being an industrial product, methanol costs much less than ethanol, thereby increasing the margin of profit of businessmen in indigenous liquor trades.