Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, several statements have been propagated about “immunity boosting” substances such as mustard oil, hydroxychloroquine and tea; alternative remedies claiming to provide either immunity or cure; and remedial effects of cow urine or even taweez. Some of these assertions were also supported by a few government functionaries at the centre and in various states. We, the undersigned, wish to put the following scientific facts in the public domain.
–> As of now, no scientific studies show that any substance boosts the immune system specifically against COVID-19, be it modern medicines like hydroxychloroquine or homeopathic solutions like Arsenicum Album D30 or Ayurvedic preparations.
–> Scientific evidence for the efficacy of any of these substances can only be obtained by rigorous testing through randomized clinical trials with COVID-19 patients, and additional laboratory analyses. Anecdotes of cure or temporary relief from symptoms or usefulness against similar diseases are not scientific proof of efficacy against COVID-19.
–> Specific immunity against a bacterium or a virus can only arise in two ways. Either we were infected and recovered from the illness, or we are vaccinated; in either case we develop antibodies that can target the specific virus or bacterium.
–> Colloquially, many people use the word “immunity” when they actually just mean “good health”. While a healthy diet and exercise improves a person’s general health (and the capacity of their immune system), this cannot make him/her immune from COVID-19. Further, the most severe cases of COVID-19 are made worse by an overreaction of the immune system. So trying to boost general immunity or trying to interfere with its regulation using untested methods, may be risky.
–> Claims such as benefits of drinking cow urine, exposing people to UV light or injecting with disinfectants, are not supported by scientific evidence, and are in fact harmful to the human body. Similarly, while some supplements such as garlic may be harmless, others such as Zinc or Datura seeds, if taken in excess, are very toxic.
–> These so-called remedies and/or immunity boosters may give people a false sense of security. Some people may wrongly assume that they won’t be affected by COVID-19 anymore, leading to risky behaviours such as not using a mask, not washing hands, or not following physical distancing protocols. Such unintentional violation of guidelines may have disastrous results by spreading COVID-19 to more people.
In summary, we want to stress that none of the so-called “immunity boosters” provide any known and/or validated protection against COVID-19. Some of the “remedies” being suggested are harmful for the human body. None of these remedies should be tried without proper medical supervision. It is necessary that people do not become complacent and lower their guard just because they have consumed these so-called remedies.
Mumbai:– Aniket Sule, Abhijit Majumder (অভিজিৎ মজুমদার), Rohini Karandikar, S. Akshay, Guruswamy Kumaraswamy, Shubha Tole, Amol Dighe, S. G. Dani, G. Nagarjuna, Arnab Bhattacharya
Bengaluru:– Reeteka Sud, Deepa Agashe, Sabyasachi Chatterjee, Smita Jain, Prajval Shastri
Kolkata:– Anindita Bhadra, Dibyendu Nandi, Soumitro Banerjee, Ayan Banerjee
Pune:– Surhud More, Aurnab Ghose, Sudha Rajamani, Sunil Mukhi, Poonam Chandra, Nissim Kanekar, Pooja Sancheti, Vineeta Bal, Shruti Tambe, Mihir Arjunwadkar
New Delhi:– T. V. Venkateswaran, R. Geeta, Sonali Sengupta, Shanta Laishram
Chennai:– R. Ramanujam, T. Jayaraman, K. Venkata Subrahmanyam, Madhavan Mukund, Enakshi Bhattacharya
Madurai:– S. Krishnaswamy
Bhubaneswar:– Ajit Srivastava