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Sunday, June 07, 2020

Explained: Can you fight or prevent coronavirus by drinking alcohol?

Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, “advice” and theories have been circulating around social media that drinking alcohol offers protection against the novel coronavirus.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: April 4, 2020 11:35:11 pm
coronavirus test, covid-19 test, alcohol in sanitisers, how sanitisers kill virus, sanitisers cost, sanitisers supply, indian express While alcohol’s effect on the central nervous system has been observed as leading to a reduction of anxiety, this lasts only as long as the alcohol lasts in the blood. (File Photo/Representational)

Alcohol-based sanitisers to wash your hands are one thing, but drinking alcohol is quite another. Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, “advice” and theories have been circulating around social media that drinking alcohol offers protection against the novel coronavirus; in Iran, media has reported how this led to a binge drinking session that eventually left dozens dead. Read in Tamil

“No, drinking alcohol does not protect you from coronavirus infection,” the World Health Organization make sit clear. “Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation and people who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking in an attempt to prevent the infection.”

Alcohol releases chemicals that reduce anxiety, so it may not be harmful to drink in moderation – one or two a day – to relieve stress and boredom, especially for those confined to their homes. Drinking in excess, however, can end up weakening the body against a coronavirus, or even killing the drinker, as it did in the Iran binge.

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While the novel coronavirus is still being studied, research on other virus outbreaks has shown that excessive alcohol affects immune function. Excessive drinkers have been seen to be vulnerable to, in particular, respiratory illness and pneumonia. They also take longer to recover from infection. In fact, excessive alcohol can also damage the lungs, which are one of the areas the novel coronavirus affects. Not just COVID-19, even those who have caught the common flu or a cold should avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

Union Health Ministry update at 11 pm, April 2. Some states may have reported higher numbers. Only states with most cases are listed above.

There is an argument against drinking too much to fight depression too. While alcohol’s effect on the central nervous system has been observed as leading to a reduction of anxiety, this lasts only as long as the alcohol lasts in the blood. Later, when the level of alcohol in the blood returns to zero, the nervous system becomes overactive trying to restore the chemicals in the blood to the earlier concentrations. That can leave the drinker anxious as ever.

Have a question on the COVID-19 outbreak and what you should/should not do? Write to explained@indianexpress.com

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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