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A social post is doing rounds which claims that alcohol can actually kill coronavirus. The post, for obvious reasons, found many supporters. We fact check the claim and found it to be half true.
A photo of a news reader has been put up with the text in breaking news format that reads – “Alcohol Kills Coronavirus”. The post was shared by a user named Steve Lock. The screenshot of the post of given below and an archived version of the same can be seen here.
In a recent development, a Congress MLA from Rajasthan has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan requesting him to open up Liquor Shops in the state during the countrywide lockdown. His logic, “When alcohol can remove Covid-19 virus with handwash, it will surely remove the virus from a guzzler’s throat.”
Can alcohol kill Coronavirus?
Yes. 70% of alcohol concentration can kill many pathogens including coronavirus. Hence alcohol based hand sanitizers are recommended to be used to keep your hands free of virus.
But ‘drinking alcohol’ doesn’t kill Coronavirus inside your body.
But isn’t alcohol effective in hand sanitizers? So why can’t it have the same effect inside our body?
For alcohol to be effective against any kind of pathogens (virus, bacteria) it needs to be 60% to 70% pure. Most hand sanitizers have around 70% alcohol content. A solution that is around 70% alcohol can effectively by breaking apart proteins in a pathogen, splitting cells into pieces or messing with a cell’s metabolism (Source)
The alcohol content in hard drinks (whisky, vodka etc.) are much milder with average alcohol content around 40%. At this proportion, alcohol is mostly ineffective against any virus. This is exactly why regular alcohols like Vodka will not be an effective hand sanitizer.
To prove the point, Vodka maker Titos Vodka has put out a tweet saying their product is not effective to be used as hand sanitizer or killing any viruses.
So, can I drink 70% alcohol?
Absolutely, NO. Alcohol in any form is harmful to our body. But, at 70% concentration (known as Rubbing Alcohol), it’s dangerous and can cause serious harm to your body and brain. If rubbing alcohol is consumed, it will can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning—even death.
As per the website of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, When it comes to drinking rubbing alcohol, the digestive tract suffers the most, even when only swallowing a small amount. The body metabolizes these extremely high alcohol levels into acetone. If consumed to intoxication, the substance can lead to organ damage. Because it’s a central nervous system depressant, side effects can include dizziness, headaches and inebriation. Because it’s a gastrointestinal irritant, it can cause nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting blood.
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