Inhaling clove vapour cannot cure Covid-19, medical experts say

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A video has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, with a claim that inhaling clove vapour can treat Covid-19. The claim is false. There is no scientific evidence that inhaling clove vapour can cure Covid-19, medical experts told AFP.

The clip was uploaded on May 15, 2021 on Facebook here, where it has been viewed more than 5,300 times.

It shows men inhaling steam from a makeshift device made of a pressure cooker on a stove.

The post's caption reads: "Clove vapour treatment for COVID19?

"Covid cases in India are suddenly decreasing now. They inhale clove vapour like this."

The text superimposed on the video says: "Clove vapour".

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on July 14, 2021

Clove, a spice with a strong aroma, is commonly used for food flavouring and medicinal purposes in Asian countries.

The video has been viewed more than 2,400 times after it also appeared with a similar claim on Facebook here and here, on TikTok here, and on YouTube here.

The claim has also circulated with different clips of people demonstrating how to boil the cloves and inhale the steam, such as here and here.

The claim, however, is false.

When asked by AFP, Dr Jemilah Mahmood, special health adviser to the Malaysian prime minister, said on July 11, 2021: "There is no scientific evidence that it is a cure [for Covid-19], but in general steam inhalation with menthol and clove oil can relieve congestion and help patients feel a little better but it is temporary relief."

Dr Kelvin Yii, chairman of the Malaysian parliamentary special select committee on science, innovation and health, told AFP on July 11, 2021, that the claim is not true.

"One of the things that is spreading faster than the disease itself is misinformation as well as certain quarters playing on the insecurities and fear of the people of this disease to introduce alternative treatment or cures that are not based on evidence-medicine," he said.

Misleading video

A reverse image search found that the video in the misleading post has circulated since at least September 2020 in reports here and here about "a steam bar" that opened in Pune, a city in western India.

Similar contraptions have been reported across India during the pandemic in a bid to prevent Covid-19, for example here, here and here.

Dr Faheem Younus, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, shared the video and wrote on September 23, 2020: "Let’s not turn fear into business. This is completely useless."

AFP has published fact-check reports debunking claims that steam inhalation can prevent or cure Covid-19, such as here and here.