It’s been called the “miracle mineral solution.” There are those who say that thanks to it they have been cured of the coronavirus and even cancer. Some people even claim that it controls autism. It sells online from $10.00 to $25.00.
And the truth is that there is no scientific study that endorses chlorine dioxide as a medicine.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) includes it in the section on its website called “Tips for the population about rumors about the new coronavirus,” in which certain beliefs are refuted, such as adding pepper to soup prevents or cures Covid-19.
Debate without evidence
The World Health and Life Coalition (Comusav), which promotes the use of chlorine dioxide in Ecuador, recently came before the country’s Assembly Audit Commission.
Their representatives argued that the compound—while providing oxygen to the body—kills Covid-19. Manuel Aparicio Alonso, a member of Comusav in Mexico, said that it is “a simple and safe substance that has been used for 100 years in the treatment of different diseases and that it will change the way of facing the pandemic, due to its speed and low cost.”
Representatives from other countries joined him; however, none presented scientific studies to support their theories. They relied on religion and highlighted the request of bishops from 10 cities in Ecuador, who sent a letter to the President of the Republic, Lenín Moreno, asking him to authorize the treatment despite having no studies to support it.
Scientists reject it
Several institutions, such as the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE), the Faculty of Chemical Sciences of the Central University of Ecuador (UCE), the Ecuadorian Society of Medicines and Patient Safety (SEMS), among others, have reiterated that there is no scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of the alleged chlorine dioxide treatment to combat the coronavirus.
Luis Bassante, spokesman for the Pichincha College of Physicians, clarifies that a drug must be effective and non-toxic before being used.
In the absence of a cure, “people are desperate and can fall in a range that goes from the truth to the false,” explains Bassante.
“It is not science if there is no demonstration,” adds the doctor, who recommends that to sustain the supposed benefits of chlorine dioxide, it is necessary to take a section of the population, carry out tests and follow-up. “What the pharmaceutical companies do.”
FDA has warned consumers and sellers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has gone so far as to issue a warning letters to sellers that market chlorine dioxide products known as “Miracle Mineral Solution” for prevention and treatment of “Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19).
The FDA has also warned consumers not to purchase or drink chlorine dioxide products sold online as medical treatments, as the agency is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting their safety or effectiveness and they pose significant risks to patient health.
The FDA also said that Chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including COVID-19, but these products continue to be sold as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions, despite their harmful effects.
Websites selling chlorine dioxide products typically describe the product as a liquid that is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Product directions instruct consumers to mix the sodium chlorite solution with citric acid – such as lemon or lime juice – or another acid – such as hydrochloric acid – before drinking. In many instances, the sodium chlorite is sold as part of a kit with a citric acid “activator.” When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent that has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.
Heart problems and more
Epidemiologist Andrea Gómez Ayora called on health professionals who find cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning, to make “case reports and hopefully publish them,” she wrote on her Twitter account.
The local and international scientific communities warn that the compound reaches the stomach directly and the chlorine passes through the intestine, producing gastric and digestive problems.
Bassante adds that there are no controlled clinical studies that demonstrate its effectiveness and safety. “There are reports of methemoglobinemia, that is, chlorine binds to hemoglobin and prevents oxygen transport,” says Bassant. In addition, hesaid that science has shown that it causes kidney, hematological and liver damage.
The FDA has received reports of people experiencing life-threatening serious adverse events after drinking chlorine dioxide products, including:
- Respiratory failure caused by a serious condition where the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced (methemoglobinemia);
- Changes in the electrical activity of the heart (QT prolongation), which may lead to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms;
- Life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration;
- Acute liver failure;
- Low blood cell counts, due to the destruction of red blood cells faster than the body can make it (hemolytic anemia), which required a blood transfusion;
- Severe vomiting; and
- Severe diarrhea.
Scientific study disclosed by the PUCE Faculty of Medicine
In Ecuador, the problem of fraudulent “cures” for COVID-19 has been compounded by a Bishop of the Catholic Church from Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Monsignor Bertram Wick,
who is promoting the substance,and who has gone so far as to demand the resignation of Dr. Juan Carlos Zevallos López, Ecuador’s Minister of Health, for not agreeing to allow the use of chlorine dioxide across Ecuador.
In response to that, the Faculty of Medicine of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) have published a letter that was sent to the Minister where they reported that, “from the beginning of the pandemic,PUCE has published summaries of scientific evidence to fight against misinformation and erroneous data that can reach the population.
In the context of the chlorine dioxide proposed by the Monsignor, days before his letter we published the summary ‘Chlorine dioxide, ozone therapy and seawater proposed as alternative therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19,’ where we concluded that there is no scientific evidence that guarantees the efficacy and safety of alternative therapies such as sea water, chlorine dioxide and ozone therapy for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.”
The letter went on to say that, “given the debate and the illegality of its sale, Ecuador’s National Agency for Regulation, Control and Health Surveillance (ARCSA) requested protocols to have more details of its actions in the patient body, although it did not detail whether scientific studies will be started.”