Gargling warm salt water or vinegar does not prevent coronavirus infection, health experts say

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A graphic has been shared thousands of times on Facebook which claims that gargling warm water with salt or vinegar can eliminate the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is false; international health authorities and experts do not list gargling as an effective remedy or prevention method for COVID-19.

The claim was published in this Facebook post on March 14, 2020.

The post features a graphic image and texts that reads: “Corona virus before it reaches the lungs it remains in the throat for four days and at this time the person begins to cough and have throat pains. If he drinks water a lot and gargling with warm water & salt or vinegar eliminates the virus. Spread this information because you can save someone with this information.”

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

The same graphic can be found on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false; while gargling is a common treatment for a sore throat, there is no evidence to suggest that it would eliminate or prevent infection from COVID-19.

The official recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as those of the health authorities of the United States, Canada, UK and Australia, do not list gargling as an effective treatment for COVID-19.

“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease,” reads WHO’s website.

There is also no evidence to support the claim that the coronavirus “remains in the throat for four days” before reaching the lungs.

WHO states the COVID-19 incubation period, which is the time between catching the virus and showing symptoms of the disease, ranges from 1 to 14 days, but is most commonly around five days.

Brandon Brown, a professor at the University of California Riverside’s Center for Healthy Communities, also told AFP by email that gargling with warm water is a common remedy for sore throat in general, not for the novel coronavirus in particular.