Thai social media users share misleading claim about 'Covid-19 throat spray'
As Thailand's healthcare system struggled to cope with surging Covid-19 cases in July, multiple Facebook posts claimed a brand of throat spray could "contain the infection". The posts are misleading: health experts say the throat spray has not been proven to treat or cure Covid-19. The posts also shared false claims about other home remedies that experts say do not treat or cure the virus.
The claim was shared here on Facebook on July 20, 2021.
The post has been shared more than 15,000 times.
The post's Thai-language caption translates in part as: "The coronavirus stays in the throat for four days, before it enters the lungs. During this time, we will have symptoms such as itchy throat, dry throat, coughing or sore throat, increased temperature, weakened respiratory system, and the loss of taste.
"During this time, you should use lime, vinegar, salt, strong alcohol, and mix them with warm water to rinse your throat. Drink warm water or use propolis extract throat spray to help reduce and contain the infection."
"Propolis" refers to a substance obtained from beehives that appears to work against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
A throat spray containing the extract is commercially available in Thailand under the name Propoliz -- approved by the kingdom's Food and Drug Administration as a sore throat remedy.
The misleading post circulated online as the kingdom endured its worst Covid-19 wave, with hospitals buckling under the pressure of record daily infections, AFP reported.
Similar claims were also shared in Facebook posts here, here, here, and here.
These posts are misleading, according to multiple experts.
"There is not yet enough scientific evidence to use [propolis throat spray] for Covid-19 symptoms," Dr. Thira Woratanarat, an associate professor at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, told AFP on July 27.
"The research requires more clinical trials."
While several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of propolis against Covid-19, they were done with small sample sizes, Dr. Thira said.
"You have to be careful if they claim it has properties against Covid-19," he said.
Jessada Denduangboripant, a professor at Chulalongkorn University's Department of Biology, told AFP that the claim propolis throat spray works against Covid-19 is "an exaggeration".
"Propolis is a natural substance which existed in beehives. It does not have enough power to treat Covid-19."
AFP has previously debunked here, here and here claims that gargling various substances, drinking warm water or consuming alcohol can prevent or cure Covid-19 .
The World Health Organization (WHO) states: "If you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, call your health care provider or COVID-19 hotline for instructions and find out when and where to get a test, stay at home for 14 days away from others and monitor your health.
"If you have shortness of breath or pain or pressure in the chest, seek medical attention at a health facility immediately."
The claim that the coronavirus stays in the throat for four days is not supported by "any evidence", according to Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Center at Chulalongkorn University.
"Each person's response to the infection is different that's why the severity of symptoms between us [is] not the same", he told AFP.