From the idea that drinking bleach can kill the coronavirs to a theory that the virus was created in a lab as a bioweapon, the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a flurry of misinformation, hatching more than 2,000 rumors, conspiracy theories and reports of discrimination, according to a new study.
Such false information can have serious consequences — the researchers of the new study found that COVID-19 related rumors were linked to thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths. For example, a myth that consumption of highly-concentrated alcohol could kill the coronavirus has been linked with more than 5,900 hospitalizations, 800 deaths and 60 cases of blindness due to methanol poisoning (which can occur when people drink home-brewed or illegally manufactured alcohol), the report said. Many of these cases were in Iran where alcoholic beverages are illegal. In India, 12 people, including five children, got sick after drinking liquor made from the toxic seed Datura, believing it to be a cure for COVID-19, according to the new report.