No, drinking water doesn’t kill coronavirus

Photo: Man crossing the road with water bottles in a shopping trolly (Credit: Getty Images)

A rumour about Covid-19 has been spreading — that drinking water regularly and keeping your mouth moist can protect you. Here BBC Future examines the evidence.

First there was the bizarre suggestion that it can be cured with cocaine. After the erroneous idea circulated widely on social media, the French government had to quickly issue a statement saying that it’s definitely pas vrai. Then came the claims that avoiding ice cream could help, prompting Unicef to issue a statement that this is also not true. Finally the – extremely dangerous and also false – idea emerged that it can be prevented by drinking bleach.

Though the coronavirus pandemic started just a few months ago, it has already spawned an abundance of online fables and urban legends about how to evade it. One suggests that drinking water can help to prevent the infection. Here’s why that’s extremely unlikely.

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The original posts shared on social media say that we should make sure our mouths and throats are always moist, and drink water every 15 minutes. The logic is that this will help to wash the virus down the oesophagus, so it that it can be killed by our stomach acid.

“This is just so simplistic, I can’t even get my head around it,” says Kalpana Sabapathy, a clinical epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Sabapathy explains that infections often begin after we’ve been exposed to thousands or millions of viral particles, so sweeping a few down the oesophagus is unlikely to have much of an impact. “One gaping hole in […]

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No, drinking water doesn't kill coronavirus
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No, drinking water doesn't kill coronavirus
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A Covid-19 rumour has been spreading - that drinking water regularly and keeping your mouth moist can protect you. (Nope.) BBC Future reports, with tips.
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BBC Future
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