VERA FILES FACT CHECK: ‘Hindi vaccine kundi asin’ post touts FALSE COVID-19 cure

A post from Facebook (FB) page Establish Your Own made false claims on vaccines and treatments for the novel coronavirus, telling readers the answer is "not a vaccine but salt."

On May 10, the page uploaded an almost 10-minute video clip containing a condensed interview with a Filipino COVID-19 survivor based in New Jersey, United States. Here, the survivor narrated his family’s experience of contracting and then recovering from the disease.

In the original interview, which ran for almost an hour and 45 minutes, the survivor said his symptoms, that made him feel like he was being “pulled by death,” were not relieved by any over-the-counter medication. This led him to try home remedies commonly used in the Philippines to alleviate cold, cough and flu symptoms -- drinking ginger brew, taking fresh lemon juice with honey and inhaling salt water steam.

He highlighted his experience with the steam inhalation, which he believes saved him and his family.

But in the shortened footage, Establish Your Own added the caption “Gamot sa COVID-19? Hindi vaccine kundi asin ([The] cure for COVID-19? Not a vaccine, but salt),” making two wrong assertions; that vaccines are the same as medicines, and that inhaling salt water steam is actually the cure for the disease.

Vaccines do not treat diseases -- they prevent it. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Five questions on COVID-19 vaccines, answered)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States explains the basics of a vaccine:

“(It) stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.”

Currently, no cure exists for the novel coronavirus. Clinical trials are underway for four existing medicines to be used as COVID-19 treatment.

In an April 22 VERA Files article disproving a similar claim that salt water steam “kills” COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO)- Philippines warned of inhaling “extremely hot steam” which “can be harmful, as there is a risk of burn injury.”

In another VERA Files article published April 23 debunking a claim that “drinking salt water” can cure the novel coronavirus, WHO-Philippines said while some home remedies may “provide comfort” and alleviate COVID-19 symptoms, there is still no evidence that these can prevent or cure the disease.

“WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19,” WHO-Philippines added.

A 2012 research from the Netherlands and a 2014 study in Spain reflect that inhaling salt water steam is not quite effective. The former also found that steam inhalation therapy has no proven benefit.

“Until there is sufficient evidence, WHO cautions against recommending or administering unproven treatments to patients with COVID-19 or people self-medicating with them,” WHO Philippines said.

Establish Your Own’s video has been viewed more than 19,000 times. It was posted by EYOVATION which identifies itself as a service provider company from Davao City that holds conferences and webinars on finance and, recently, on health, among others.

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


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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