COVID-19 Watch FACT CHECK Health

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Gargling water with salt, vinegar DOES NOT ‘remove’ coronavirus

Netizens continue to share on Facebook a four-month-old post that wrongly claims gargling with water mixed with salt or vinegar can get rid of the virus causing COVID-19 from one’s throat.

The post also claimed the novel coronavirus stays for four days in the throat before moving onto the lungs.

The false cure being peddled in the netizen’s March 23 post has already been debunked by the Department of Health (DOH). Disproving an earlier version of the FB post, the DOH said on March 17 “there is no medical evidence that rinsing the throat with warm water and salt or vinegar will eliminate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

VERA Files has also fact-checked similar untrue claims about salt water solutions supposedly being able to kill the virus. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video claiming drinking water with salt kills novel coronavirus NOT TRUE and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Salt water steam DOES NOT kill coronavirus)

The circulating FB post, which currently has over 13,000 shares, is a black and white printout version of an advisory that reads, “CORONA Virus… Bago ito umabot sa baga, nananatili ito sa lalamunan sa loob ng apat na araw at sa oras na ito, ang tao ay nagsisimulang umubo at sumasakit ang lalamunan. Kung umiinom siya ng maraming tubig at magmumog na maligamgam na tubig na may asin o suka ay nag-aalis ito ng virus.”

(Before it reaches the lungs, it stays in the throat for four days and in this time, a person starts to cough and his throat becomes painful. If he drinks lots of water and gargles with lukewarm water with salt or vinegar, the virus will be removed.)

Colored versions of the graphic also made the rounds from March to early July. It has also circulated in six continents.

Additionally, the claim that SARS-CoV-2 stays for “four days in the throat before it goes to the lungs” is unsupported.

“COVID-19 enters the body through the nose, mouth, and eyes,” a team of public health experts convened by international nonprofit organization Meedan told VERA Files Fact Check.

“The virus lands at the back of the throat in roughly 80 percent of people who have mild cases of infection. For other more severe cases, the virus can then move down to the lungs, potentially causing pneumonia, although most recover,” the experts said.

There are no studies that back up the claim on the four-day retention period in the throat.

The netizen’s false and misleading post continues to circulate as of publishing time. On July 29, a total of 85,486 COVID-19 cases was recorded by DOH in the country.

In June, the University of Edinburgh launched a study jumping off from earlier research about salt water solution as a potential intervention for the common cold. The recently-launched investigation will look into whether saline solutions may help also improve treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)