All Cow Dung & Urine ‘Hacks’ That Will Not Work Against COVID-19
Days after reports of people applying cow dung on their body to ward off COVID-19 went viral, BJP MP from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur came out with a claim that drinking gau mutra (cow-urine) of a desi (Indian) cow has prevented her from getting infected with the novel coronavirus.
Doctors and scientists have repeatedly warned against the use of cow dung and cow urine to treat COVID-19.
Suman Haripriya, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Assam was one of the first people to claim that cow dung and cow urine may cure COVID-19.
Since then, numerous such COVID-19 preventive measures have been suggested by various people that used cow dung or urine in different forms. None of these so-called remedies have any scientific proof or backing as of the time this article was published.
Here's a look at all the claims:
'Drinking Cow Urine Prevents COVID-19'
At a party meeting on 17 May, BJP MP Pragya Thakur claimed that she did not get infected with coronavirus as she had gau mutra every day.
"If we have desi gau mutra (urine from an indigenous cow) every day, then it cures lung infection from COVID. I am in deep pain but I take cow urine every day. So, now, I don't have to take any medicine against corona and I don't have corona," Thakur said, reported NDTV.
The same claim was previously suggested by UP BJP MLA Surendra Singh. According to ANI, Singh claimed that drinking cow urine has protected him from coronavirus. He also recommended people to ‘drink cow urine with a glass of cold water’.
In March 2020, the BJP’s Bengal Chief Dilip Ghosh, while talking at party programme, said there was no harm in drinking cow urine and that “I have no qualm in accepting I consume cow urine”. He also urged people to drink cow urine to prevent COVID-19.
In the same month, the president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Swami Chakrapani, organised a ‘gau mutra party’ and invited world leaders to drink cow urine and skip meat to beat the coronavirus.
'Applying Cow Dung on People a Cure For COVID-19'
A video from Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanam Gaushala recently went viral where people were seen smearing their bodies with cow dung and urine and then performing yoga to prevent COVID-19.
A similar "hack" was used by some people in Karnataka last March when they took a bath in cow dung and cow urine to ward off the corona "bacteria".
Cow Dung Cake Sanitisers
Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Usha Thakur on Sunday, 7 March 2021, advocated the need for a Vedic lifestyle for protection against coronavirus and claimed that ‘havan’ (ritual burning) of a cow dung cake can keep a house sanitised for 12 hours.
“Mix ghee (clarified butter) made out of cow milk with rice. If you add this mixture on a cow dung cake during havans at the time of sunrise and sunset, then your place will remain sanitised for 12 hours,” she said.
On 19 May 2021, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut performed a havan and spread the smoke around a neighbourhood to stop the spread of the virus.
Sharma told Times Now, “We have mixed ‘hawan’ material with cow dung cakes and ghee of desi cow, stems of the mango tree, camphor, etc. to stop the spread of the Corona, purification of environment, increase the oxygen level in the atmosphere and kill the dangerous virus from the atmosphere."
Bonus Hack: Burn Cow Dung Cake in Ghee to Produce Oxygen
During the second wave of the pandemic, while several hospitals across the country reported an oxygen shortage, a claim that went viral on social media said that burning cow dung with desi ghee (clarified butter) will “produce oxygen at home.”
What Do Doctors Say?
FIT had previously spoken to Dr Sumit Ray, a Senior Consultant, Critical Care Medicine, who had said that cow dung or cow urine cannot help in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
“Scientifically, cow dung and cow urine are excreta from an animal’s (mammal’s) body, which is being thrown out. Unlikely to have any benefit to another mammal such as human beings. There are no scientific studies or evidence to show that cow urine or cow dung has antiseptic properties. It is not going to benefit us in any infections, including this coronavirus. Comments like these only add to the unscientific and irrational information that is spread!”Dr Sumit Ray
"There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief," said Dr JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association told Reuters.
In fact, doctors have also warned that using cow dung could lead to other diseases in people.
“Cow dung cannot cure covid. It a misconception and is misleading. Please do not fall for such a myth. It can result in the onset of the black fungal infection, mucormycosis, and must not be engaged in. The only way to handle the pandemic is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash hands.”Dr Vikas Maurya, director-pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, told The Indian Express.
Even Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has expressed his reservations towards curing COVID-19 with cow dung and urine.
“I would not support such statements and would like people to follow only some simple steps to prevent the virus from spreading,” said Harsh Vardhan told India Today.
To check the the claim that burning cow dung will produce oxygen or sanitise homes, we spoke to Abhijit Mazumdar, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at IIT Bombay, who said that there is absolutely no truth to the it.
“First of all, burning process is something that consumes oxygen. Whatever you burn, it cannot produce oxygen, rather it consumes oxygen. Secondly, converting one element to another element can only be done with the help of nuclear reactions.”Abhijit Mazumdar, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at IIT Bombay
“If you create smoke in the room, it will create distress to the patient who is facing breathing problems,” he added.
How Can You Prevent COVID-19?
According to the WHO and India’s health ministry maintaining good hygiene such as washing/sanitising hands frequently, maintaining physical distancing and wearing a face cover can prevent one from contracting COVID-19.
The Indian government and doctors around the world are also encouraging people to take the vaccine against COVID-19 to end the chain of transmission as soon as possible and prevent deaths.
While the country is still reeling under the effects of the second wave of COVID-19, it's important to not fall for such unproven methods to prevent the disease.
(This story has been published as a part of The Quint’s COVID-19 fact-check project targeting rural women.)
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