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Oregon Poison Center Warns About Coronavirus ‘Remedy’ Misinformation

Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

Social media is great for sharing information with friends. But it’s not so great at making sure that information is correct. While there’s no cure for the COVID-19 coronavirus, misinformation about supposed remedies is spreading across the internet.

Now doctors at Oregon Health and Science University are trying to dispel harmful misinformation about COVID-19 remedies. A few examples: drinking small amounts of bleach or hydrogen peroxide, and preventing coronavirus by taking excess amounts of the supplement colloidal silver, which is said to stimulate the immune system.

“Absolutely none of these have been proven effective and several of these things can really have very severe toxicities,” says Robert Hendrickson the medical director at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU.

Something else to avoid, Hendrickson says, is taking the malaria treatments chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

While the Food and Drug Administration recently approved testing these medications on patients in the hospital with COVID-19, Hendrickson warns they pose serious health risks and shouldn’t be taken at home without a doctor.

“We may find that they’re effective. We don’t know yet. But they do have significant toxicities,” he says.

Hendrickson says during this moment of frustration and anxiety, some people are reaching for unproven solutions.  

Precautionary steps that are reliable are those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon Health Authority: regular hand washing, social distancing, and staying away from people who are sick.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.