Several fake articles have been disseminated recently on social media about the fight against coronavirus. This time, the ground for discussion was homeopathic substances and their effectiveness in fighting COVID-19.
For instance, on March 17, Progressnews disseminated an article where a Georgian homeopath, Kakha Sabakhtarashvili, discusses a homeopathic drug with crocodile blood that cures coronavirus. According to Sabakhtarashvili, the drug, made of crocodile blood, is used to treat various diseases. Sabakhtarashvili recommends the Center for Disease Control and the Hospital for Infectious Diseases to start using his drug in the fight against coronavirus and introduce it in a clinical practice.
A drug that treats COVID-19 has not been created yet, the vaccines are in development
Currently, a substance for treating coronavirus does not exist. There is an ongoing discussion on the efficiency of the existing medications such as remdesivir and chloroquine, however, a new drug has not been discovered yet.
Parallel with the spread of coronavirus, various countries began working on a vaccine. In the United States, the vaccine was first tested on a human in March, while the United Kingdom scheduled to launch the tests on April 21-24. Despite the progress, the vaccine is still at an early stage of development and the final results may not be available earlier than 12-18 months.
What is homeopathy and why is it not scientific?
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine, introduced in Germany 200 years ago. It is based on two main principles:
- “Like cures like” – notion that the disease can be cured with those substances that, in healthy individuals, cause the symptoms that are similar to the disease.
- “Law of minimum dose” – notion that the lower the dose of the drug, the higher its efficiency.
Homeopaths believe that the molecules of a diluted substance maintain the memory of the original substance. Homeopathic drugs are mostly made up of plants (such as red onion, ivy, belladonna, or nettle), minerals, or living organisms (bees, for example).
A broad study published in Australia in 2015 aimed to study the efficiency of homeopathic drugs. The study showed that there is no scientific evidence of homeopathy efficiently treating various health problems.
Myth Detector addressed Dr. Archil Marshania for an explanation of the principle of homeopathy and its effectiveness. According to Dr. Marshania, homeopathy originated in the 18th century, when medicine was not developed and harmful methods such as bulimia and bloodletting were considered as official treatments.
Dr. Marshania explained that it is unimaginable to treat patients with the same substance that causes the disease and said that the efficiency of homeopathy does not exceed the placebo effect. He also added that treating chronic and acute diseases with homeopathic drugs is dangerous and the intake of these mixtures may, under certain cases, even be fatal.
Dr. Archil Marshania: “What would you think of me if I said that it is possible to treat insomnia using caffeine? Or that symptoms matter more than causes when treating a disease?... We should keep in mind that treating chronic and acute diseases with homeopathy is dangerous, it impedes the start of an adequate and effective treatment – something, that under certain cases, may prove to be fatal… A pseudo-science based on a nonsense cannot be taken seriously. Homeopathy does not work, notwithstanding that it is made of crocodile blood or a nail of Echidna.”
According to Marshania, disseminating fake information about the pseudo-science may be serving financial interests. In addition, it sows panic in people and causes distrust towards medicine and science.
Dr. Archil Marshania: “Nowadays, Russia is very active. We remember the absurd about the Lugar Laboratory, as well as the spread of anti-vaccination theories in the West. Later, conspiracy theories on 5G internet and pseudo-treatments came up. Naturally, this impedes technological development.”
Prepared by Natia Gigatadze
Myth Detector Lab