There’s nothing like a viral outbreak to bring out the worst in people. As cases of coronavirus (2019-nCoVs) continue to pop up across mainland China and the wider world, the internet has already been filled with a fair dose of misformation, conspiracy theories, and straight-up BS.
But out of all the nonsense being shared, few ideas are more ridiculous than grifters and conspiracy theorists telling people that drinking a bleach-laced liquid will help protect them against coronavirus.
The substance in question, known as Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) or 20-20-20 spray, is a liquid that contains chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach, and sodium chlorite, another toxic chemical used as a disinfectant. Although it is essentially just a cocktail of random industrial chemicals, the liquid sold is sleek packaging with labels that call it an "elixir of life" and "miracle cure."
The website peddling this stuff claim (with zero evidence, obviously) that the substance can cure all kinds of ailments and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, Crohn’s disease, autism, the H1N1 flu virus, and pretty much any illness you can name.
Now, in the midst of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, some individuals have taken to social media to claim it can help protect against coronavirus.
“I’m going to have to get home, and MMS the whole state,” one prominent QAnon promoter said in a recent video, according to The Daily Beast. “MMS the whole shit out of everything.”
Needless to say, this is a "Tide Pod Challenge" level of dangerous activity.
If you take a look at the websites selling this stuff, you’ll notice small disclaimers noting, “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” and “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”
Indeed, the FDA has warned the public about MMS before. In August 2019, they released a public statement warning about the dangers of MMS, citing cases where people had suffered severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure, and acute liver failure after drinking these products.
“Ingesting these products is the same as drinking bleach. Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason,” Ned Sharpless, MD, FDA Acting Commissioner, said in a statement. “The FDA will continue to track those selling this dangerous product and take appropriate enforcement actions against those who attempt to evade FDA regulations and market unapproved and potentially dangerous products to the American public.”
You can read more about the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have been circulating around the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak right here.