Hundreds die from alcohol poisoning in Iran hoping to ward off covid-19

Life Grigory Matyunin 29-Apr-2020
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Over 700 Iranians have died from consuming moonshine and industrial alcohol after a series of false reports suggested that strong alcohol serves as a form of protection against covid-19.

Nearly a hundred others have been made blind after consuming poisonous methanol, a highly toxic industrial alcohol used as a solvent as well as in pesticides and certain fuels. Some bootleggers peddle methanol disguised as a drinkable alcohol. In drinks it is tasteless and odourless. Manufacturers are usually expected to add colour to the liquid to make it easily identifiable. It is capable of causing organ or brain damage. The total number of poisonings currently stands at approximately 5,000.

Amidst the ongoing covid-19 pandemic Iran is the worst hit country in the Middle East. Nearly 6,000 people have died and over 91,000 have been infected. Commentators have speculated that this official figure is an underestimate.

The rumour about the alcoholic cure-all spread quickly on social media, apparently following false reports that a number of Britons had cured themselves through the consumption of whisky. Moreover, the rumour was bolstered by the presence of alcohol in hand sanitiser.

Alcohol poisoning has thus surged to unprecedented levels. Between late February and early April 728 people died compared to 66 fatalities over the course of last year. Some parents are known to have tragically poisoned their own children.

Alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 revolution, with the only exception being private consumption by religious minorities.