Hyderabad: Union Minister of State Arjun Ram Meghwal introducing a brand of crisps, 'Bhabhiji papad', which are manufactured under the Atmanirbhar Scheme of the Indian government, claimed that consuming the papad will help a person produce antibodies to fight the novel Coronavirus.
A video is going viral on all platforms of the media showing him promote 'Bhabiji papad'. The company, which has manufactured the papad is from Bikaner in Rajasthan and claims that the edible product, along with split black gram, has gilloy and other immunity-boosting ingredients.
Archived version of the video can be found here.
Consuming herbal or healthy food helps boost a person's immunity but does not generate antibodies as claimed by the Union Minister. So, the claim of the Union Minister is FALSE.
Papads are usually made from urad (black gram) flour mostly but can also be made from chickpeas, lentils, and rice flour. Vegetables, tomatoes, or onions are often added on the top for flavour. Urad dal is rich in protein, fat and carbohydrates, apart from boosting energy levels. However, it does not produce antibodies in the human body.
Even the herb mentioned in the viral claim, Giloy is also known to boost immunity but does not produce antibodies.
Various sources, including AYUSH ministry, have been suggesting several foods to boost immunity but according to scientists and doctors across the world, immunity-boosting is quite different from the production of antibodies.
According to Britannica.com, when an alien substance enters the body, the immune system is able to recognize it as foreign because molecules on the surface of the antigen differ from those found in the body. To eliminate the invader, the immune system calls on a number of mechanisms, including one of the most important—antibody production.
Antibodies are produced by specialized white blood cells called B lymphocytes (or B cells). When an antigen binds to the B-cell surface, it stimulates the B-cell to divide and mature into a group of identical cells called a clone. As antibodies circulate, they attack and neutralize antigens that are identical to the one that triggered the immune response.
Another kind of immunity, called cell-mediated immunity is also found in the human body, says an article published in The Hindu. It doesn't involve antibodies. Both, however, are premised on the recognition of antigens — bits of protein on a foreign, potentially harmful cell — that are either blocked or destroyed. There is no scientific evidence that such immunity can be boosted by food and supplements. Rather, mild exposure to a virus or a vaccine or antibodies from those who've recovered from infection are the only known ways to be protected from future diseases.
There are several ways to boost immunity but there is no scientific evidence that immunity so generated can restrict Covid-19. "During the pandemic, no one should not come out with such statements, as they are misleading. The ingredients in papad are just immune-boosting and not antibody-producing. Antibodies can be produced only when you have a prior infection of Covid-19," said Dr. B. Venkateswar Rao MD (Ophth), AIIMS.
Hence, the claim of the Union Minister of State that papad can help produce antibodies to fight Covid-19 infection is FALSE.