FALSE: COVID-19 is bacteria, can be cured by aspirin

Claim: COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a form of bacteria that can be cured by aspirin.

Several Facebook users posted this claim on Facebook. Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool, flagged at least 5 users that shared posts containing this claim.

The earliest post flagged by Claim Check was shared on May 24. It said: “ASPIRIN LANG PALA KATAPAT NG COVID-19 BATAY SA LIBO-LIBONG GUMALING SA ITALY?BACTERIA ANG COVID AT HINDI VIRUS?Niloko tayo ng WHO.” In the comments section, the user cited Italy’s Minister of Health as the source.

(Aspirin is the cure for COVID-19, based on the thousands that were cured in Italy. COVID-19 is a bacteria, not a virus. WHO [World Health Organization] fooled us.)

As of writing, the post had over 45,000 shares, 4,200 reactions, and 100 comments. The post was reported at least 674 times for containing false information.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: There is scientific consensus that COVID-19 is caused by a virus that belongs to the coronavirus family. Both the WHO and the Ministry of Health of Italy say there is no specific treatment or registered cure for COVID-19 to date.

“The novel coronavirus, which is responsible for the respiratory disease now named COVID-19, is closely related to the SARS-CoV and is genetically classified in the genus Betacoronavirus, subgenus Sarbecovirus,” the Ministry of Health of Italy said in its frequently asked questions page.

While both viruses and bacteria can cause diseases, viruses are smaller and need a host to survive. They invade and multiply in the host's healthy cells. Meanwhile, bacteria are cells and can survive on their own and even outside the body. 

The Italian Medicines Agency, Italy’s government agency responsible for drug regulation, listed the drugs that are made available to treat the symptoms of its COVID-19 patients here and all the clinical trials in the country here. Aspirin is not on both lists.

“Treatment remains mainly based on a symptomatic approach, providing supportive therapies (e.g. oxygen therapy, fluid management) to infected people, which can nevertheless be highly effective,” Italy's Ministry of Health said.

There are clinical trials that test aspirin to treat COVID-19 patients in China and in the US, but these are still ongoing and do not provide scientific validity yet. The estimated completion date of the study in China is in June 2020, while the one in the US is expected to last until December 2020.

In April, Rappler debunked a similar claim that said COVID-19 can be cured by ingesting aspirin with lemon juice and honey, which cited Makati Medical Center (MMC) as its source. MMC denied issuing the advisory. (READ: FALSE: Aspirin with lemon juice and honey cures coronavirus) – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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