FALSE: Drinking water 'washes' coronavirus, prevents it from entering lungs

Claim: A claim circulating on social media and messaging apps says that keeping your throat moist will wash the coronavirus down to your stomach where the virus will die.

One such claim was in the form of an audio recording wherein a woman said: "[...] drink lots of hot liquids. Coffee, soups, teas, warm water. In addition, take a sip of warm water every 20 minutes because this keeps your mouth moist and washes any of the virus that's entered your mouth into your stomach where the gastric juices will neutralize it before it can get to the lungs."

This recording was sent to Rappler via email for fact checking.

We also found the recording posted on the YouTube channel "Dyords Dungo" on March 22 with the title, "Credible Advice to help Fight Covid19." It has been viewed 638 times as of posting.

Similar claims on Facebook say that Japanese doctors give this advice to prevent getting infected by the novel coronavirus: "Everyone should ensure your mouth and throat is moist, never DRY. Take a few sips of water every 15 [minutes] at least. WHY? Even if the virus gets into your mouth... drinking water or other liquids will WASH them down through your esophagus and into the stomach. Once there in tummy... your stomach ACID will kill all the virus. If you don't drink enough water more regularly... the virus can enter your windpipes and into the LUNGS."

These claims were posted by different accounts, with some dating as early as February 27. Together, they've been shared at least 1,600 times.

Rating: False

The facts: Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and doctor Norberto Francisco, chief of clinical trials and research at the Lung Center of the Philippines, say that drinking water will not prevent a coronavirus infection. (READ: What you need to know: Coronavirus cures, vaccines being tested)

In a tweet dated February 8, WHO Philippines said, "While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection."

Q: If drinking water alleviates a sore throat, does this also protect against #2019nCoV infection? A: While staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent coronavirus infection. pic.twitter.com/AWb1wK89Wj — World Health Organization Philippines (@WHOPhilippines) February 8, 2020


When asked if drinking water can wash the coronavirus down the throat and into the stomach where it will be killed, Francisco said: "Not true. There is no basis for that claim."

The New York Times, BBC, and The Guardian have also debunked this claim, citing different sources and experts.

There is no evidence that drinking water will prevent the virus from entering the lungs, the New York Times said.

The BBC, speaking to Kalpana Sabapathy, a clinical epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, wrote that sweeping a few viral particles down the esophagus will not make a difference after a person has been exposed to thousands of those particles.

The Guardian quoted epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, saying, "It is very simply not true that you can prevent viral infection by drinking water, if for no other reason than the main method of transmission for coronavirus appears to be droplets landing on surfaces, not virus stuck in your throat."

As of Monday, March 30, there has been no treatment or vaccine prescribed for COVID-19. – Vernise L Tantuco/Rappler.com

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