An Indonesian man has his temperature checked at a mosque in Surabaya on May 24, 2020, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AFP / Juni Kriswanto)

Health experts say there is no evidence salt can treat COVID-19

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

Multiple posts shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube claim that salt is an effective remedy against the novel coronavirus. The claim is false; health experts have said there is no evidence that salt can treat the novel coronavirus disease; as of May 2020, the WHO says there is no remedy for COVID-19.

This post has been shared more than 4,500 times after it was posted on Facebook on May 24, 2020. 

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of the misleading post

The post’s Indonesian-language status reads in part: 
“Coronavirus can be defeated with table salt.

“We do not need a vaccine that will be brought by the Jewish or the Chinese.

"This is not a hoax.

“Please read till the end. This is from a friend who just got coronavirus.

“If you believe this you will get the benefit. If you do not it won't harm me.

“This just happened two days ago. He was still sleeping when a cough woke him up. The cough had quite a lot of phlegm, and he felt his breathing was rather disturbed. There was no any sign that he would get a cough before.

“What did he do?

“1) Remove the phlegm.
2) Drink a lot of warm water /1 glass.
3) Take a little TABLE SALT to the tip of his tablespoon, put it into his mouth, let the salt dissolve in his mouth and swallow it little by little so the throat was filled with the salt taste.” 

The caption also says: “That's my testimony. I hope WE CAN FIGHT THE CORONA Season WITH INEXPENSIVE SALT.”

The same claim has been shared more than 7,000 times after it was published herehere, here and here on Facebook.  It was also shared here on Twitter.

A similar claim was also shared on YouTube here and here.

The claim is false; health experts have said there is no evidence that salt can treat the novel coronavirus disease.

“Until now there is no evidence that NaCl / table salt can kill the virus causing COVID-19. That information is a hoax,” Dr Dirga Sakti Rambe, an internist and vaccinologist at Jakarta’s OMNI Pulomas Hospital, told AFP via WhatsApp on May 27, 2020.

In response to a similar claim, Agit Sena Adisetiadi, Gadjah Mada University’s internal medicine specialist, also said: “Saltwater gargling cannot prevent Covid-19 infection.” 

“There is no medical evidence that explains that this can help prevent Covid-19,” he said, as quoted in an article published in the university’s website.

John Hopkins University’s School of Public Health debunked a similar claim about gargling with salt water, saying that “it has no direct effect on the virus.”

Below is a screenshot of the John Hopkins’ website:

Screenshot of John Hopkins University’s website

The WHO also refuted another salt-related claim, that says regularly rinsing nose with saline helps prevent infection with the new coronavirus. “There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus,” it says. 

Below is a screenshot of the WHO’s website:

Screenshot of WHO’s website

As of May 29, 2020, the WHO has said here there is no remedy for COVID-19.

“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19,” it said.