The coronavirus disease, which is also referred to as COVID-19, is a viral disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Generally, the virus is referred to as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and is believed to have originated from Wuhan in China. COVID-19 is a highly transmittable deadly disease transferred by humans through contact with an infected person, contaminated surfaces, or inhalation of contaminated air. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends various measures to curb the spread of this disease including the use of alcohol-based disinfectants. Sanitizers with high alcohol content (more than 60%) have been recommended as they can destroy coronaviruses on surfaces. The ability of alcohol to destroy the virus has raised many questions on whether alcohol intake cures COVID-19. A brief of what scholars have found on the relationship between the consumption of alcohol and the prevention of COVID-19 is presented in this article.
Consumption of alcoholic drugs does not prevent COVID-19 but makes people susceptible to infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. WHO highlights various myths about alcohol and the protection against COVID-19. For instance, it is believed that consuming the drug would destroy the coronavirus in the body (Family Safety & Health, 2020). According to WHO, alcohol does not destroy SARS-CoV-2 in the body but increases the health risks of infected people. At high concentrations, which is more than 60%, alcohol acts as a disinfectant when used externally but such traits cease when ingested (Maria, Maristela, & Carina, 2020). An individual will be at risk of contracting the disease if contaminated air is inhaled since taking such strong alcoholic drugs does not disinfect the mouth or the throat as believed. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that in excess, alcohol lowers the body’s immunity, reducing an individual’s ability to cope with an infectious disease such as the coronavirus (NIAAA, 2020). According to WHO, alcohol has detrimental effects on almost all organs of the human body regardless of the amount consumed and should be avoided whenever possible.
It is also noted that the intake of alcohol increases the chances of methanol poisoning rather than reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that the rumors about alcohol made some people begin taking the drug after the virus was officially reported in Iran in February 2020 (Aghababaeian, Hamdanieh, & Ostadtaghizadeh, 2020). In Iran, alcoholic beverages are prohibited, but due to the fear of the disease, people smuggled alcoholic beverages or even brewed it illegally in their homes. According to NCBI, such activities increased the risk of methanol consumption as by April 2020, more than 3,000 cases of methanol poisoning were reported (Aghababaeian et al., 2020). NCBI reports that the death rate due to methanol poisoning exceeded the fatality rate due to COVID-19 in some provinces in Iran. Such information reveals the dangers of consuming alcohol as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
In summary, alcohol consumption is not a protective measure against coronavirus disease. Although under high concentration alcohol can be used externally as a disinfectant, it loses these characteristics when ingested. Consumption of alcohol affects the body’s immunity, which puts individuals at the risk of contracting diseases including COVID-19. Also, consuming alcohol to protect oneself from COVID-19 increases the chances of being poisoned by substances such as methanol.
Aghababaeian, H., Hamdanieh, L., & Ostadtaghizadeh, A. (2020). Alcohol intake in an attempt to fight COVID-19: A medical myth in Iran. Alcohol, 88, 29-32.
Maria, N., Maristela, M., & Carina, F. (2020). Alcohol and COVID-19: What you need to know. Researchgate, 1-5.
NIAAA (2020). Drinking alcohol does not prevent or treat coronavirus infection and may impair immune function. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Family Safety & Health (2020). Drinking alcohol won’t protect you against COVID-19, experts say.