No, an Indian student didn’t invent a concoction to cure COVID-19

Image: Namibia Fact Check / WhatsApp

A viral message has been doing the rounds about an Indian student having discovered a cure for COVID-19 that has been approved by the WHO.

The ‘third wave’ falsehoods continue to swirl unrelentingly. 

The latest falsehood to enjoy virality in Namibian social media groups is one about an Indian student from the University of Pondicherry having come up with a “home remedy” that has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a cure for COVID-19. 

According to the anonymous post, that has been “Forwarded many times” in WhatsApp groups, the student’s concoction comes down to “one teaspoon of pepper powder, two teaspoons of honey, a little ginger juice taken for 5 consecutive days can eliminate the effect of corona up to 100%”.

The post that has been “Forwarded many times“.

Apparently, according to the post: “The whole world is starting to take this treatment, finally a happy experience of 2021.” 

The viral WhatsApp post that falsely claims the discovery of a cure.

Is this true?

No, it’s not. 

First, the WHO has not approved any curative treatments to date for COVID-19. A thorough search of the WHO’s COVID-19 web pages will make it clear that no such approval exists.  

Second, the false post has been around since mid-2020, and Indian fact checker BOOM first debunked it in July 2020.  

At the time, BOOM interviewed the “vice-chancellor of the University, Gurmeet Singh who refuted the claim. “This is fake. The University has been dragged into this news. None of our students have made any coronavirus cure related discovery,” said Singh.”

The post once again surfaced in Indian social media groups in March-April 2021, when the country was in the grips of a devastating COVID-19 wave.  

BOOM debunked it again on 3 April 2021, stating: “BOOM had earlier debunked the same message in July 2020 when it surfaced on WhatsApp in English. The message has now resurfaced in Hindi and Gujarati with the former narrative being attributed to Dr Satya Pal Singh, a BJP member of Parliament and the ex Commissioner Of Police, Mumbai.”

Aside from BOOM, numerous other fact checkers have also debunked the false claim since mid-2020.

Here’s a good one from another Indian fact checker, Factly, from 16 July 2020.

And here’s another article from AFP Fact Check about the false claim, also from July 2020.

So, here’s the lesson: Namibian social media users are cautioned to not just share or forward posts that might contain old falsehoods, but to rather Google search terms or words in WhatsApp and other social media posts that will deliver information about whether the claims encountered are factual or false. 

The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be false.

22nd June 2021

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)