No, inhaling or eating onion does not prevent or cure COVID-19

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Viral video pushes the common onion as a treatment or cure for COVID-19 despite such claims having been debunked many times.

Claims that inhaling onion fumes or ingesting onion as a way to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 have been circulating virally on social media for months, and have been debunked by health authorities and fact checkers the world over. Yet such claims continue to do the rounds.

Namibian social media users were treated to homegrown false medicinal advice on the onion when since June-July 2021 a WhatsApp video has been widely shared or “Forwarded many times” containing unproven advice on the inhaling and ingesting of onions to prevent COVID-19 infection.

A much-shared WhatsApp video in which a man advises Namibians to inhale onion fumes or ingest onion to prevent COVID-19 has been going around since June-July 2021.

In the video a man, with a Namibian accent, claims that inhaling onion fumes or eating and ingesting onion will prevent a COVID-19 infection, and he advises Namibians to follow his advice and to share the video widely.

Is it true?

There is no truth to the claim that inhaling onion fumes or eating and ingesting onion will prevent or treat a COVID-19 infection.

Namibia Fact Check has checked the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 web pages for any guidance on the use of onions to prevent or treat COVID-19. No such guidance exists.

As yet, there is no effective treatment or cure for COVID-19.

In fact, when similar claims about onions and COVID-19 were circulating on the African continent in May 2020, West African fact checker GhanaFact had approached the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa for comment and the WHO response was that eating onions as a treatment or cure for COVID-19 was “not true”.

Such claims have been debunked many times by fact checkers around the world over the last year or so.

Despite this, these claims continue to circulate virally on social media.

A viral post making similar claims about onions’ bogus COVID-19 preventative or curative properties – by inhaling onion fumes or eating onions – circulated in parts of Asia in August-September 2021. The claims were debunked by AFP Fact Check on 9 September 2021.

Other fact checks about onions as a treatment or cure for COVID-19 can be viewed here, here and here.


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

26th September 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)