A worker carries bags of onions unloaded from a truck and onto a boat in Yangon. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI ( AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI)

Inhaling onion fumes does not kill Covid-19, experts say

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A post has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and in multiple blog posts that claim the coronavirus can be killed by inhaling onion fumes and eating onions. But the claim is false; health experts say there is no evidence that onions can kill the virus or prevent Covid-19 infections.

The post was published here on Facebook on July 3, 2021. It has been shared more than 23,000 times.

A screenshot of the misleading post taken on September 7, 2021

The post's Burmese-language caption translates to English in part: "Disinfecting the respiratory tract and cleansing the lungs".

"To prevent catching the Covid-19 virus and to cleanse your lungs, you need to inhale onion fumes that kill the virus."

The post then suggests cutting an onion in half and inhaling its fumes before chewing on a second onion.

"Patients with lung disease, people with thick phlegm and Covid-19 patients can use this method to benefit their health," the posts states.

The post was also published on blogs here, here, and here.

Similar claims were also shared here, here, and here on Facebook.

However, the claim is false.

Health experts say inhaling onion fumes or consuming onion cannot kill the coronavirus or prevent Covid-19 infections.

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, director of the Central Infectious Diseases Control Division in Myanmar, told AFP on August 30 that inhaling onion fumes cannot kill the virus.

“That is just misinformation that is harmful”, she said.

"If (a Covid-19 patient) thinks that he will get better by inhaling onions, it may be too late to get the necessary treatment,” she added.

Thira Woratanarat, professor at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at Chulalongkorn University told AFP on September 6, 2021 that there is "no solid evidence" to support the claims in the social media posts from "any clinical research".

AFP has previously debunked a string of coronavirus claims related to onions: including that eating onion can cure Covid-19; placing onions around your house can ward off the virus; or that consuming an onion-based tonic can prevent infection.

Multilingual keyword searches found no credible evidence that onion can kill Covid-19 or prevent the spread of the virus.

COVID-19