Indian health authorities refute myth that juiced vegetables can cure COVID-19

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A post has been shared repeatedly in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp which claims a regional government in India has recommended that the juice of bitter gourd, a vegetable often used in traditional medicine, is an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is false; Indian authorities dismissed the claim, calling it “absolutely false”; health experts said there is no evidence the vegetable is an effective remedy for COVID-19.

The post was published here on Facebook on March 8, 2020, alongside a photo of a glass of green juice.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

The post’s Hindi caption translates to English as: “Friends the treatment of Coronavirus has been found by Indian scientists, bitter gourd juice will cure within two hours of its consumption. Send this message across all India, this is a matter of life, thank you Bihar Health department.”

According to the US-based health publication WebMD, bitter gourd is a green vegetable often used in traditional medicine across Asia.

India has registered 468 COVID-19 infections as of March 24, 2020, AFP reported here. The government has said it will ground all domestic passenger flights from March 25 in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. More than 700 million people in 30 states and territories have been ordered into complete lockdowns, according to an AFP tally.

A similar claim about the benefits of bitter gourd juice were shared in posts here, here and here on Facebook and here and here on Twitter. 

The claim is false. 

During a phone conversation with AFP on March 19, 2020, Dr. Naveen Chandra Prasad, the Director in Chief of the Disease Control and Public Health section of Bihar’s Department of said: “This message is false, there is no such information issued by Bihar health department nor there is any evidence that bitter gourd juice can cure COVID-19.”

The Indian government’s Press Information Bureau also issued a statement on Twitter on March 18, 2020, calling the claim “absolutely false”.

The Hindi tweet translates to English as: “The claim that consumption of bitter gourd juice can cure coronavirus in two hours is absolutely false. Share accurate information about the Coronavirus but stay away from rumours.”