Doctors in India are warning people not to use cow dung to stave off COVID-19, saying no scientific evidence exists that it works.
In the state of Gujarat in western India, where cows are considered sacred, some people are going to cow shelters once a week to cover themselves with cow feces and urine. “As participants wait for the dung and urine mixture on their bodies to dry, they hug or honour the cows at the shelter, and practice yoga to boost energy levels. The packs are then washed off with milk or buttermilk,” Reuters reported.
But doctors in India say the alternative treatment for COVID-19 has no footing in science.
“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief,” Dr. JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association, told the news agency. “There are also health risks involved in smearing or consuming these products — other diseases can spread from the animal to humans.”
But there are some doctors who apparently embrace the treatment. “‘We see … even doctors come here. Their belief is that this therapy improves their immunity and they can go and tend to patients with no fear,’ said Gautam Manilal Borisa, an associate manager at a pharmaceuticals company, who said the practice helped him recover from COVID-19 last year,” Reuters reported.
Doctors in India are warning against covering one's body in cow dung and urine in the belief it will ward off COVID-19, saying there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness and that it risks spreading other diseases. More photos: https://t.co/g2rTla2PUx 📷 Amit Dave pic.twitter.com/3WpULYndxA
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) May 11, 2021
The virus has exploded in India, which has more than 1.3 billion residents. There have been more than 25 million cases — second only to the United States — and 278,719 Indians have died, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the past 24 hours, The Associated Press reported.
The virus was slow to get a grip on India but has recently surged. “Infections in India have surged since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies,” said the AP.
In the last month, cases have more than tripled and reported deaths have gone up six times — but testing has only increased by 1.6 times, according to Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan tracking India’s battle with the virus. With infections outrunning testing capabilities, there are fears that many cases are going undetected.
Experts also say India has lagged behind in doing the testing needed to track and better understand a worrisome virus variant first detected in the country. On Monday, the Health Ministry said 17 new labs will be brought online to help track variants.
Alternative and holistic treatments for COVID-19 are rampant in India, where people believe they work.
“A groundbreaking interim result of a clinical trial of COVID-19 patients has given rise to new hopes.” India.com reported. “The patients underwent natural treatment for COVID-19 in three hospitals and it was found that the combination treatment of Ayurvedic remedy known as ‘Immunofree’ by the Corival Life Sciences, and ‘Reginmune’ by Biogetica which is a Nutraceutical produced better results when compared to the conventional treatment approved by the government for COVID-19.”