During a press conference held by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH) on March 18, a reporter brought up the claim of gaumutra, or cow urine, being a remedy for COVID-19, and asked whether the MoH and Ministry of AYUSH are at conflict on this matter.
The Press Information Bureau official quickly dismissed the question, stating that there's no such conflict and that it is simply a matter of perspective. MoH Joint Secretary Luv Aggarwal, who was briefing the press, refrained from speaking on this topic as well.
The emerging claim around gaumutra or cow urine being an effective remedy to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease presents a troubling scenario for Indian citizens. Despite the number of cases seeing a sharp rise in the past week - religious outfits along with members of the ruling party have repeatedly reinforced the misleading claims around this unusual treatment.
On March 15, 2020, religious group Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha organised a "gaumutra party" to "neutralise the effects of the virus". Chakrapani Maharaj, who calls himself the chief of the organisation, declared that cow urine is an effective treatment for the virus, and that everyone should consume it.
Many of the invitees partook in consuming the bovine drink together, much in the manner of a tea party.
Three days later in Kolkata, Bharatiya Janata Party activist Narayan Chatterjee organised another such event to reinforce the misleading claims around cow urine and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, a civic volunteer fell ill from consuming the drink and Chatterjee was shortly arrested by Kolkata Police.
BJP activist Narayan Chatterjee has been arrested for organising a cow urine consumption event in Kolkata, claiming that it will protect people from #coronavirus, leading to a civic volunteer falling ill.https://t.co/U9ilRrRmR3— The Quint (@TheQuint) March 18, 2020
These events present two specific concerns for the Indian society, given the increasing number of cases and a growing risk of community transmission. While prevalence of a misleading cure remains unchecked by government bodies, congregations such as these also go against the WHO directive of observing social distancing to limit the spread of the virus.
While Government Looks The Other WayTwo days later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an address to the nation to discuss the arrangements for the coming weeks to cope with the spread of the virus in the country. During the 29-minute speech, Modi spoke of the importance of social distancing, while asking citizens to observe a self-imposed curfew on Sunday as a preparation for an eventual lockdown ahead.
However, he did not address the issue of his party members organising gatherings to drink cow urine, neither did he address the claim around the effectiveness of cow urine as a remedy for the virus.
Social media, however, did not keep quiet on the issue. Many took to Twitter to ridicule the claim, while some came out in support.
Cow urine, cow dung, Yoga being seen as cures for #CoronaVirus has made India a joke internationally. This is part of the larger mess India is now. Modi has not only destroyed India's democracy & secularism, but also its spirit of scientific inquiry. https://t.co/KQKE28Ek0p— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) March 15, 2020
Scientific research shows that cow's urine or gomutra of Bos Indica has a high level of anti-bacterial activity and is an immune enhancer. Safer than anti-bacterial drugs. Its usage goes back to the most ancient Ayurvedic texts of Charaka and Sushruta.https://t.co/mnXbkmKxm8— Dr David Frawley (@davidfrawleyved) March 17, 2020
But they are no frauds. Healing properties of Gomutra are proven and 130 crore Indians are doing fine probably due to Ayurveda.— Maria Wirth (@mariawirth1) March 15, 2020
The real frauds who deal in panic may sit in fancy offices in Geneva.
I feel sorry for you for being badly brainwashed against your tradition.#Wuhan https://t.co/BPLdbcBNg0
Some others stated that cow urine has been given US Patents for its "medical properties" and posted journal articles to support the claim.
While many Indians( Journalists, Commies, Islamists, Congis, naxalis, leftist malcontent) continue to make fun of #CowUrine #Gaumutra, Cow urine has been granted US Patents for its medicinal properties as bioenhancer and antibiotics, antifungal anticancer agent. https://t.co/gEcTsKRxUO pic.twitter.com/at61ePlMPh— Krishna Negi (@kcsnegi) March 15, 2020
4- Any one who is ignorant about medicinal usage of Gomutra (Cow Urine, Bos Indicus) should refer to multiple research articles, published in international and national journals on medicinal propeprities of Cow Urine pic.twitter.com/A0kuKX8hW6— Shantanu Gupta (@shantanug_) March 16, 2020
Treatment For Coronavirus?
There is some existing literature on certain remedial properties of cow urine, and the United States have granted patents for the medical use of cow urine distillate (US Patent No. 6,896,907 and 6,410,059). However, none of these studies have investigated the effectiveness of cow urine on SARS-CoV-2, which is a novel virus, and all of them predate the outbreak of the disease by years.
Furthermore, according to WHO, "there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus".
BOOM spoke to several public health officials, who - under the condition of anonymity - denied the existence of any scientific evidence to support the claim that coronavirus can be cured by cow urine or cow dung cakes.
Dr. Shailendra Saxena, of the Indian Virological Society also agreed on this matter. Speaking to BOOM, Saxena said that while research on cow urine and its medical properties is more than welcome, there is simply not enough research to suggest that it may cure or prevent the novel coronavirus disease.
"As of now, there is no clinical evidence to to show that cow urine has anti-viral properties and that it can fight against the novel coronavirus," he said. "Cow dung also contains bovine coronavirus which may present its own set of illnesses when consumed."
"However, further extensive research into the anti-viral properties of cow urine is more than welcome," he further added.
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