Israeli medical personnel take samples at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Ramat Hasharon in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, on June 1, 2020 during measures imposed by the Israeli authorities to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. (AFP / Jack Guez)

False social media posts claim Israel has reported zero deaths from COVID-19 due to baking soda remedy

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved

Multiple posts shared repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter since March 2020 claim that Israel has reported zero deaths from the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The posts also claim Israeli citizens have protected themselves from COVID-19 by drinking a remedy of hot water, lemon and baking soda, which purportedly “kills” the virus. Both claims are false; as of June 21 the World Health Organization (WHO) states Israel has reported 305 deaths from COVID-19; health experts say there is no evidence the baking soda concoction can cure or prevent COVID-19 infections.

The photo was shared here on Facebook on April 16, 2020.

The post claims a “cure or the way to eliminate” COVID-19 has been discovered in Israel -- a mixture of lemon and bicarbonate in water -- which has resulted in no COVID-19 related deaths in the country.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on June 22, 2020

The post reads, in part: "IN ISRAEL NO DEATH FROM COVID-19 / The cure for the C19 virus or the way to eliminate it was achieved. Information comes from Israel, there this virus did not cause any death.

“The recipe is simple / 1. Lemon / 2. Bicarbonate. Mix and drink as hot tea every afternoon… immediately kills the virus, completely eliminates it from the body.”

A similar claim has also been shared here, here and here on Facebook, and here and here on Twitter.

The claims, however, are false.

According to the WHO, Israel reported its first COVID-19 death on March 20, 2020, and as of June 21, 2020, a total of 305 deaths related to the disease have been reported in the country. 

Health experts also say there is “no evidence” that mixing lemon and bicarbonate can provide immunity from COVID-19 infections.

Cristian Paredes, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the Catholic University of Chile told AFP on May 27, 2020: "There is no evidence that any derivative of lemon juice can improve or prevent a COVID-19 infection."

Substances found in lemon juice and bicarbonate are also not among the list of compounds that are known to be able to remove the novel coronavirus from surfaces, he added.

Similarly, Olosmira Correa, an assistant professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology at the University of Chile, told AFP there is “no scientific basis” in claims that say a virus can be “killed”.  

She said: "It is not a dangerous mixture, but it does not have an effect on COVID-19 disease, it does not improve symptoms or help in any way.”

As of June 22, 2020, the WHO also maintains that “there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure” COVID-19.

The claim was also debunked by the AFP Fact Check team here in Spanish.

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