Posted on March 30, 2020, 2:23 PM IST
The coronavirus pandemic has been ravaging lives across the globe without any specific cure. False medicinal news and fake viral messages can prove fatal, Iranian media now reports nearly 300 people died and more than 1,000 sickened so far by ingesting methanol. It was a direct result of fake remedies spread across social media in Iran, where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it incompetently dealt with the crisis.
“The virus is spreading and people are just dying off, and I think they are even less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around,” said Dr. Knut Erik Hovda, a clinical toxicologist in Oslo who studies methanol poisoning and fears Iran’s outbreak could be even worse than reported. “When they keep drinking this, there’s going to be more people poisoned.”
The Islamic Republic has reported over 29,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,200 deaths from the virus, the highest toll of any country in the Middle East.
Since alcohol is banned, bootleggers in Iran use methanol, adding a splash of bleach to mask the added color before selling it as drinkable. Sometimes it is mixed with consumable alcohol to stretch supply, other times it comes as methanol, falsely advertised as drinkable, Hovda said. Methanol also has the potential to contaminate traditionally fermented alcohol.
Methanol remains largely untraceable in drinks. It causes delayed organ and brain damage. Symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.