Hyderabad: The second wave of COVID-19 has hit India hard. More than 20.65 lakh cases were reported in the country in the first half of April. It has recorded two lakh cases per day in the past two days. Amidst this, a message claiming that inhaling steam kills coronavirus has been doing the rounds of WhatsApp and Facebook.
According to the message, "The hot water you drink is good for your throat. But this Corona virus is hidden behind the Paranasal sinus of your nose for 3 to 4 days. The hot water we drink does not reach there. After 4 to 5 days this virus that was hidden behind the paranasal sinus reaches your lungs. Then you have trouble breathing. That's why it is very important to take steam, which reaches the back of your Paranasal sinus."
It claims that the steam kills the coronavirus. "At 50°C, this virus becomes disabled i.e. paralyzed. At 60°C this virus becomes so weak that any human immunity system can fight against it. At 70°C this virus dies completely. This is what steam does," it says.
The message claims that the public health department is aware of this but is trying to take advantage of the pandemic and is not sharing this information. It recommended inhaling steam once a day for those staying at home, twice a day for those who go to the market to buy groceries and vegetables, and three times a day for those who meet people or go to office.
It suggests people start inhaling steam for a week for just five minutes in the morning and evening. If everyone adopts this practice for a week, then the coronavirus will be erased, the message claims.
The claim that inhaling steam can kill COVID-19 virus is FALSE.
Steam is not recommended as a treatment for the coronavirus by either the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Indian ministry of health.
In March 2020, too, NewsMeter had debunked a similar claim about steam curing COVID-19. Health experts have repeatedly asserted that COVID-19 cannot be cured by such home remedies. Rakesh Mishra, the director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad, had earlier said, "Inhaling steam when one has a respiratory illness, cough or cold will help reduce the severity of such symptoms, in general. However, inhaling will provide only symptomatic relief. It does not mean the infection caused by coronavirus can be cured."
Inhaling steam has been used as a home remedy for cold and upper respiratory tract infections. But scientific studies have found that it has few proven benefits, and can cause serious adverse side effects like burn injuries.
According to an article on timesofindia.com, doctors said such messages are false and misleading. It quotes Dr. Mysore as saying he had more cases of people with damaged airways in March, April, and May when fear of the virus was at its peak. "I have seen cases of worsening asthma symptoms due to increased steam inhalation," he told TOI.
This claim has also been debunked by Reuters. A representative from the CDC previously told Reuters that he was not aware of any scientific studies that show steam therapy helps cure coronavirus.
Therefore, the claim that inhaling steam can kill COVID-19 virus is FALSE.