Fact checkers are debunking a false claim zooming around the internet that Israel has managed to avoid any deaths related to the coronavirus by prescribing a mixture of hot water, lemon and bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda.
Not only is the claim about Israel ducking the pandemic plainly false, but experts say there is no proof this or any herbal remedy will do anything to protect a body against COVID-19.
While Israel’s first death directly linked to the virus was not recorded until March 21, as of Saturday evening, at least 43 people in the country have died from the disease. (The tally is 44 according to some Hebrew media reports). There have been over 7,800 confirmed cases across the country.
According to the fake claim being shared on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media, “everyone in Israel drinks a cup of hot water with a lemon and a little baking soda at night as this is proven to kill the virus.”
The posts falsely state that “the action of the lemon with hotter baking soda immediately kills the virus, completely eliminates it from the body.”
The post is one of several worming their way through the internet falsely claiming that the vitamin C in lemons somehow ward off the disease, according to Snopes.com.
“There’s no data that shows using lemon juice or hot tea or anything like that would kill a virus,” Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Factcheck.org.
Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, said that nothing should be presumed to prevent or treat the virus unless it has gone through clinical trials.
“There are no herbal remedies I would recommend for COVID-19,” she said.
Medical experts have said that developing a vaccine for the virus could take at least 12 to 18 months.
Doron recommended that people keep a well-rounded healthy diet, get sleep and minimize their stress, because those factors affect the immune system.
Even the hoax claim that “the People of Israel is relaxed about the virus,” is as far from the truth as possible (Israelis are rarely relaxed about anything). In fact, Israel was among the first countries outside east Asia to enact quarantine measures and emergency social distancing regulations and the country has been under a partial lockdown for two weeks.
As with much else on the internet, it’s not clear where the claim, written in poor English, originated.