“All we hear is Masks Masks Masks Vaccines Vaccines Vaccines” reads a graphic posted on Facebook by South Africa’s African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and its Western Cape branch.
“No one has said a word,” it complains, about several alternative methods of controlling the spread of Covid-19.
“We're not dealing with scientists,” it concludes. “We're dealing with parasitical, political pimps!”
But the graphic is incorrect. Many of the options it lists have been suggested as alternative methods to prevent the spread of Covid-19, or even cure the disease. But health experts have advised against many of them, saying other interventions are more effective.
What are some of the proposed solutions? And why are they not recommended over masks and vaccines?
Repeatedly disproven ‘treatments’
The graphic lists “eating an alkaline” and “getting enough sunlight” as possible remedies. Some of its other options are simply words like “Turmeric” and “Colloidal Silver”.
Colloidal silver, which contains particles of the metal silver, is usually sold as a dietary supplement. And the US National Institutes of Health says: “Scientific evidence doesn’t support the use of colloidal silver dietary supplements for any disease or condition.”
It may cause side effects such as permanent skin discolouration. Fact-checkers and health authorities have warned that colloidal silver cannot treat Covid-19.
Eating an alkaline diet will also not treat the disease. Africa Check has debunked this claim several times, most recently when it was promoted by the youth league of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress. Medical experts told us that “coronavirus has nothing to do with the stomach” and that an alkaline diet won’t treat or prevent the disease.
Similarly, there is no evidence that turmeric can cure or prevent Covid-19. Africa Check has debunked claims that turmeric, along with other foods, like ginger and garlic, can be used to treat Covid-19.
These foods could be part of a healthy diet, as can the vitamins which the graphic also recommends (zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D3). Except, as the World Health Organization points out, these vitamins are not a treatment or cure for Covid-19, and can’t prevent the disease.
Similarly, while “getting enough sunlight” can improve health, the WHO warns that “You can catch Covid-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is.”
Experts recommend masks, hand washing, social distance and vaccines
“Physical distancing, keeping your social circle to the same small group of core people, hand washing and the wearing of masks are the best preventative measures for Covid-19,” advises Prof Eric Decloedt from Stellenbosch University's Division of Clinical Pharmacology in South Africa.
Even eating a healthy diet, which is recommended by the WHO, does not have a direct effect on controlling the transmission of Covid-19, and does not provide the same benefits as masks and vaccines.
Public health authorities such as South Africa’s Department of Health have said: “The vaccine and non pharmaceutical interventions are our main weapons in the battle against Covid-19.” These interventions include masks, but also practising good hygiene, and avoiding what the WHO refers to as “the 3Cs: spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact.”
Masks and vaccines, along with other non-pharmaceutical interventions, should be the focus of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19. Interventions with no direct effect on the disease should not be promoted as alternatives.
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