News & Politics

More Than 700 Dead in Iran After Ingesting Methanol as Coronavirus Cure

Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, at the main market in Gaza City, Thursday, March 19, 2020. The Middle East has some 20,000 cases of the virus, with most cases in Iran or linked to travel from Iran. The vast majority of people recover from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

As far as we know, not one single American has injected disinfectant into his or her veins after the media reported the president said that injecting disinfectant would cure coronavirus.

Trump never said that, of course, but that’s how the media is reporting it. Regardless, headlines all across the country report increased calls to poison centers after people supposedly followed Trump’s advice.

That’s not exactly what’s happening.

Reason:

U.S. media seem determined to find an influx of people consuming bleach and other household cleaners because of President Donald Trump’s comments. Over the weekend, an array of news reports on calls to poison control centers in March and a craftily-titled New York Daily News article were either deliberately framed to give the impression of a new spike in Americans “drinking bleach” or nonetheless shared as evidence of such by many in the media. I wrote about the discrepancy, which means that people keep sending me every new story related to poison control calls or people having adverse reactions to disinfectants.

Some of the reports involve people ingesting disinfectants before Trump ever said anything about them. But the real reason for the increase has nothing to do with Trump.

The Journal-Constitution notes that Georgia’s “biggest spike in poisonings from cleaning products has been caused by home-bound Georgians mixing products together to furiously scrub surfaces, then falling ill from inhaling fumes. Last year, the poison center handled 49 product-mixing calls in March and April. This year, since March 1 the center has had 115 calls,” according to the state poison control director.

There has not been one single reported death from anyone ingesting disinfectant since Trump spoke about it. But it’s a different story in Iran.

According to the Washington Times, more than 700 Iranians have died from methanol poisoning since February 20. Rumors that the toxic liquid would cure the coronavirus have led to a 10-fold increase in the number of deaths by methanol ingestion.

[Iranian health ministry spokesman Kianoush] Jahanpour said that a total of 5,011 people had been poisoned from methanol alcohol.

He added that some 90 people have lost their eye sight or are suffering eye damage from the alcohol poisoning.

[Iranian Health Ministry advisor Hossein] Hassanian also said the final tally of people who lost their eye sight could be much higher.

Tech Times traced the deaths to posts on social media in Iran, recommending the product to ward off or cure the virus.

Fake cures and remedies have been falsely spreading around social media in Iran. This has led to people being very suspicious of their government after they downplayed the pandemic crisis for days before the whole situation overpowered and devastated the entire country.

A clinical toxicologist in Oslo by the name of Dr. Knut Erik Hovda, who has been studying methanol poisoning said that “The virus is spreading and people are just dying off, and I think they are even less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around. When they keep drinking this, there’s going to be more people poisoned.”

When you can’t believe anything the government is saying, it’s hard for desperate people not to take crazy chances.

Messages filled with misinformation were forwarded over and over again where Iranian social media accounts have falsely advocated that a British schoolteacher along with other people have cured themselves of COVID-19 using honey and whiskey, which was based on a tabloid [in] February.

It also suggested the use of alcohol-based sanitizers which made the people think that drinking these would eventually kill the virus in their bodies.

The narrative that Trump’s disinfectant comment is killing people just doesn’t pass the smell test. But in a country like Iran, people will believe snake oil salesmen before they believe the government.