(COCHABAMBA, Bolivia) — Lengthy strains kind each morning in one of many Bolivian cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as determined individuals wait to purchase small bottles of chlorine dioxide, a poisonous bleaching agent that has been falsely touted as a treatment for COVID-19 and a myriad of different ailments.
The frenzy within the metropolis of Cochabamba to purchase a disinfectant identified to trigger hurt to those that ingest it comes even after the Bolivian Well being Ministry warned of its risks and stated a minimum of 5 individuals have been poisoned after taking chlorine dioxide in La Paz, the capital.
Dr. Antonio Viruez, who’s treating the 5 at a hospital, stated one incorrectly believed he had COVID-19 and developed pneumonitis, an irritation of lung tissue, after taking chlorine dioxide and a drugs used to deal with parasite infestations. The opposite sufferers are enhancing, he stated.
“The Well being Ministry can not danger recommending one thing that doesn’t have a scientific foundation,” stated Miguel Ángel Delgado, a senior ministry official.
Nonetheless, Bolivia’s opposition-controlled congress is selling using chlorine dioxide. Final week, the Senate accredited a invoice authorizing the emergency “manufacture, advertising and marketing, provide and use of chlorine dioxide answer for the prevention and remedy of coronavirus.”
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The invoice would require the approval of interim President Jeanine Áñez, who’s in quarantine after testing constructive for the brand new coronavirus. She has sparred with opposition lawmakers loyal to Evo Morales, the previous chief who was pressured to resign final 12 months after an election marred by irregularities.
Many fearful residents in Cochabamba, the place opposition assist is powerful, are giving chlorine dioxide a attempt. Cochabamba has reported about 440 deaths from COVID-19, or one-quarter of the entire variety of reported deaths in Bolivia. The actual toll is believed to be greater.
“I’m afraid. I’ve to attempt it,” stated Andrés Poma, a 34-year-old trainer who’s skeptical that beleaguered well being providers may also help him if he will get sick. “What am I going to do? Wait to die on the door of the hospital or on the door of my home?”
Federico Anza, who sells chlorine dioxide at his Cochabamba retailer, stated hundreds of individuals have purchased it, consuming it in drops. “My spouse and I took it and nothing occurred to us,” he stated.
He stated his shoppers had not fallen ailing after taking the agent, although provincial well being authorities reported 10 circumstances of poisoning from chlorine dioxide previously week.
The governor of Cochabamba state, Esther Soria, stated she helps a plan for a state legislation authorizing using chlorine dioxide and conventional medication to deal with COVID-19. Cochabamba’s mayor, José María Leyes, stated he favors the free distribution of the bleaching agent to deal with sufferers.
However Fernando Rengel, president of the Cochabamba’s scientific affiliation, stated there are outdated beliefs that the poisonous substance is “miraculous” and cures most cancers, AIDS, malaria and different ailments, “however there is no such thing as a scientific research that proves that it cures any illness.”
Chlorine dioxide is considered one of numerous pretend cures which have been promoted, usually by fringe teams on-line, because the pandemic started.
In April, a federal choose in South Florida ordered a Colombia-based group, the Genesis II Church of Well being and Therapeutic, to cease promoting a associated product, Miracle Mineral Resolution, within the U.S. Prosecutors stated Genesis marketed the answer as a remedy for COVID-19, autism and different illnesses.
The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration has beforehand issued public warnings that MMS may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and extreme dehydration.
In April, U.S. President Donald Trump mused about whether or not disinfectants might be injected or ingested to struggle COVID-19, prompting intense blowback from medical doctors and different well being officers.
Flores reported from La Paz, Bolivia.