VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video claiming drinking water with salt kills novel coronavirus NOT TRUE

Two widely-shared Facebook (FB) Live videos of a Filipino netizen insisting that drinking warm water with salt will kill the virus that causes COVID-19, are false.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines told VERA Files in an email that while some home remedies may “provide comfort” and alleviate COVID-19 symptoms, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. It added that clinical trials are ongoing for both traditional and western medicine.

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

The misleading videos were posted by a certain Boyet Castelo, a self-proclaimed COVID-19 patient who, however, admitted he had not yet seen a doctor at the time he went live to share the home remedy. On April 19, contradicting his acknowledgement that there is still no cure against the virus, he said the saltwater concoction will “heal” a person with the disease, adding the solution cured him of his COVID-19 symptoms.

Three days later, he went on FB Live again and repeated his claim that the salt “will kill the virus in one’s body.” He also repeatedly said “there is nothing to lose” in trying the method.

VERA Files Fact Check has found at least four FB pages and seven YouTube channels that re-uploaded Castelo’s video, propagating the false claim that salt and salt water can cure COVID-19.

Among these is YouTube channel Gzion TV which overlaid a graphic over Castelo’s video that placed an “X” over logos of the World Health Organization and United Nations, among others, and has text that reads “end of covid” and “natural, tested & effective cure.”

Castelo’s fallacious videos surfaced amid global efforts to find a cure for the disease, which has already affected more than 2.7 million people worldwide as of April 25.

Similar claims, such as warm salt water gargle and salt water steam to treat the disease, have also circulated on social media but those have been debunked by health experts. (SEE: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Salt water steam DOES NOT kill coronavirus)

Castelo’s videos have reached over 2.5 million views and more than 135,000 shares.

(Editor's Note: An update on the story was made on April 27 changing the attribution to WHO Philippines from a WHO Philippines officer.)

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

FOR FURTHER READING

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

It makes two wrong assertions; that vaccines are the same as medicines, and that inhaling salt water…

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Salty and sour foods DO NOT cause SARS-CoV-2 to ‘explode and dissolve’

It does not protect one from or kill the virus causing COVID-19.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Salt water steam DOES NOT kill coronavirus

Inhaling extremely hot steam has a risk of burn injury, WHO adds.

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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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