The French government was forced to combat the claim that cocaine cures the coronavirus Sunday after a misinformation campaign recently began circulating widely online.
"No, cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people's health," the French health ministry tweeted in response to doctored images being spread on the internet suggesting that the drug "kills" the virus.
#Coronavirus | Désinfox ❌ Non, La cocaïne NE protège PAS contre le #COVID19 . ✅ C’est une drogue addictive provoqua… https://t.co/ZLxhZZl31m— Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé (@Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé) 1583669710.0
The images, which were posted to Twitter by profiles boasting hundreds of thousands of followers, appeared to show news headlines about the new miracle cure, Business Insider reported. "Cocaine kills coronavirus," the headlines read in the images, which were retweeted and liked thousands of times on Twitter.
https://t.co/stjYcihGiz— Bizzle Osikoya (@Bizzle Osikoya) 1580732121.0
Most users who reacted to the tweets seemed to know that they were fake and treated the information as a joke. But, nonetheless, given the panic and hysteria over the international outbreak, the French government felt that they had to quash the misinformation.
Breaking News: #coronavirus 🦠 https://t.co/AWiDvw9lP8— anton newcombe (@anton newcombe) 1580415519.0
Politifact also stepped in to debunk the claims over the weekend.
Numerous conspiracy theories have circulated online since the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, China, late last year. Such theories range from the suggestion that the virus originated in a lab as a biological weapon to theories suggesting that the virus can be spread through pets, mosquito bites, and goods manufactured in China.
In response to the misinformation spread, the World Health Organization has set up a website page aimed at debunking myths and conspiracies about the virus.
France has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. At the time of this article's publication, over 1,400 had tested positive for the virus in the country, resulting in 30 deaths.