Medical staff dressed in protective gear wait to test people for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at a drive-through testing centre at Vibhavadi Hospital in Bangkok on March 25, 2020 (AFP / Jack Taylor)

False social media posts purport to share coronavirus 'cure' from Thai hospital dean

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A video has been shared repeatedly in multiple Facebook posts that claim it shows the dean of Thailand’s Siriraj Hospital recommending certain treatments for Covid-19, including taking "3,000-5,000 mg" of vitamin C each day. The claim is false; the man in the misleading footage is not Siriraj hospital’s dean. Health experts warn against following the purported advice in the video.

The video was published on Facebook here on December 23, 2020.

Screenshot of misleading Facebook post, taken on January 13, 2020

The video’s Thai-language caption translates to English as: “The Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital gives a method to kill #Covid-19 virus on your own. Let’s listen to the doctor so that you wouldn’t have to worry much about Covid-19.”

Siriraj Hospital is Thailand’s biggest and oldest hospital, situated in the west of Bangkok.

The three-minute, 18-second video shows a man wearing a pink and white checked shirt talking in Thai.

At the 21-second minute mark, he says: “The important thing to do in order to solve the Covid-19 problem is to keep your body strong and eat healthy food. Another important thing is taking vitamin C, a very important vitamin. You should take 3,000-5,000 mg a day.”

The claim circulated shortly after a new cluster of Covid-19 infections was detected at a seafood market in central Samut Sakhon province, AFP reported here. Infections have been detected in 53 of the kingdom's 77 provinces. 

The video was also shared here and here on Facebook alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false; the person in the footage is not the dean of Siriraj Hospital.

Mistaken identity

Professor Prasit Watanapa is the dean of the hospital’s faculty of medicine.

The photo of Professor Prasit on the hospital's website does not match the image of the person speaking in the footage.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading video (L) and Professor Prasit (R): 

Screenshot comparison of the misleading video (L) and Dr. Prasit (R): 

At the three-second mark, Thai-language text appears in the video which reads “Woravat Wuapinyakul, the ex-Member of Representative for Phrae Province.”

The video corresponds with images of Woravat on his Facebook page.

Professor Prasit told AFP he is not the man speaking in the misleading video. "The post tried to impersonate me," he said during a telephone interview on January 14, 2021.

Vitamin C claim

There is not enough evidence to prove that vitamin C is an effective treatment for Covid-19, health experts say. 

A November 3, 2020 statement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US medical research agency, reads: “There are insufficient data for the Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin C for the treatment of Covid-19 in non-critically ill patients.”

Dr. Pokrath Hansasuta, an assistant professor of virology at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, told AFP by phone on January 14, 2021 that there is “still no academic evidence” to support the claim that vitamin C can cure Covid-19.

In response to the claim, Dr. Kanitha Tananuwong, associate professor at the Department of Food Technology, Chulalongkorn University warned against exceeding the recommended daily intakes of vitamin C.

“As per the daily recommendations of the Thai recommended daily intakes, people should not take more than 60 mg a day," she told AFP by Line messaging app on January 14, 2021. "Usually our body will get rid of the excess through urination, so most of it can be excreted. However, if too much, your kidney will work harder than normal."

The claim that taking vitamin C cures Covid-19 was debunked by AFP here.

AFP found other social media posts that purport to share coronavirus "cures" from Professor Prasit, such as eating holy basil leaves, here and here.