One of the only things spreading across the globe faster than the current coronavirus pandemic is misinformation. In Iran, citizens are especially un-trusting of their own government after the severity of the outbreak was downplayed for days, if not weeks, allowing the situation to quickly spiral out of control.
Now citizens are seeking their own answers, and in some cases their own treatments. This has led thousands of Iranians to turn to methanol, a powerful alcohol, to try and prevent and treat the disease themselves.
Because of this, as many as 480 people have died and thousands of others hospitalized by drinking the so called cure.
This has placed additional strain on a healthcare system that is already overloaded. According to an Associated Press report:
Iranian media report nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened so far by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic, where drinking alcohol is banned and where those who do rely on bootleggers. An Iranian doctor helping the country’s Health Ministry told The Associated Press on Friday the problem was even greater, giving a death toll of around 480 with 2,850 people sickened.
The poisonings come as fake remedies spread across social media in Iran, where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it downplayed the crisis for days before it overwhelmed the country.
“Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here,” said Dr. Hossein Hassanian, an adviser to Iran’s Health Ministry who gave the higher figures to the AP. “We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus.”
There is currently no known cure for COVID-19, though many countries are testing existing anti-viral treatments along with traditional supportive care.