A number of social media accounts are circulating information, described as “dangerous” by U.S. health authorities, that ingesting a toxic bleach-like chemical will prevent coronavirus and treat other various human diseases.
A Twitter account by the name of “Chief Police 2” tweeted on Jan. 25 that people should buy a “20-20-20 spray” to prevent coronavirus infections.
“New followers protect yourself with 20-20-20 protocol kills the virus,” the tweet said. “Spray mouth with it VIRUS DEAD. Any virus is dead.”
This is not the first time these chemicals have been billed as a way to treat or prevent disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the government body in charge of public health in the United States – has been warning about the use of these chemical mixtures since the summer of 2019.
“Some distributors are making false—and dangerous—claims that Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) mixed with citric acid is an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial liquid that is a remedy for autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, flu, and other conditions,” the FDA said in August 2019. “But the FDA is not aware of any research showing that these products are safe or effective for treating any illness.”
Health Canada investigation
Health Canada has issued similar warnings about the chemical as far back as 2010.
“Health Canada has not approved any health products containing sodium chlorite for human consumption. As such, the sale of MMS products is not permitted under the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations,” the agency said in 2018. “Health Canada has warned Canadians about the serious health risks posed by these products and has taken action to remove them from sale on several occasions.”
In 2018, a British Columbia man pleaded guilty to selling unauthorized drugs containing sodium chlorite. The product remains illegal in Canada.
Ingesting the chemical mixture “can cause poisoning, kidney failure, harm to red blood cells, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other harms,” the agency said.
There is some evidence that consumer bleach products like Clorox and others can kill some microorganisms on surfaces like floors and counters, but these chemicals are dangerous for humans and animals to ingest. It is also unknown if these consumer bleach products can kill this particular strain of coronavirus at all.
With files from PolitiFact, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg.