Coronavirus Quack Cures Like Cow Urine, Fasting and Cognac Are Being Promoted by Authority Figures Around the World

Highly questionable treatments for COVID-19 including drinking cow urine have been promoted by political leaders since the pandemic began.

A host of evidence-free remedies that also include fasting and drinking cognac have been touted by authority figures around the world. In India, "cow urine parties" have been organized to help revelers join forces and consume the waste product, which some falsely claim can kill coronavirus, alongside cow dung. It's unclear whether social distancing guidelines are maintained during the parties.

"We have been drinking cow urine for 21 years, we also take bath in cow dung. We have never felt the need to consume English medicine," party attendee Om Prakash told Reuters.

A representative of India's conservative nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was arrested after he organized a party last month as the country began imposing restrictions on large gatherings in the wake of the pandemic.

He was arrested after a bystander claimed to have been forced to drink the urine, which resulted in a trip to the hospital for nausea and vomiting. Party leadership vociferously defended the representative and claimed the arrest was an affront to democracy soon after.

"When he distributed it he clearly said it was cow urine, he didn't force anyone to drink it," a party leader told Indian press agency PTI. "It has not been proved whether it is harmful or not. So how can just police arrest him without any reason? This is completely undemocratic."

Cow in India
Cow urine has been falsely claimed to be effective in treating COVID-19, alongside a host of other diseases and ailments. Pavel Sipachev/Getty

Drinking the urine of any animal is neither safe nor effective for treating COVID-19 or any other disease. No reputable evidence suggests that drinking liquid of any sort is effective against the virus, although several other substances have also been proposed.

In Kenya, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko promoted the arguably more palatable drink cognac, urging that Hennessy brand cognac be distributed alongside food handed out to the needy. The recommendation was reportedly based on a false claim that the World Health Organization (WHO) had recommended drinking alcohol to ward off the virus.

Consuming alcohol has no effect on the pathogen and could reduce the body's natural ability to fight off infection, according to the WHO. Hennessy warned Kenyans against believing that drinking their product would prevent or treat COVID-19.

Other substances that leaders around the world have suggested consuming to treat the virus include lemongrass tea, garlic, peppers and onions. Refraining from consuming anything by fasting has also been touted as a potential cure for the disease.

A Brazilian congressman who doubles as a conservative Pentecostal preacher claimed that one day of fasting and prayer would produce a "miracle" that would see the virus eradicated from the country. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the virus as "a little flu," agreed that such a day would "free Brazil from this evil."

"While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease," a WHO spokesperson said in a statement to Newsweek. "WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19."

"However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines," they added. "WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available."

Newsweek reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Update 4/17, 6:19 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a statement from WHO.