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Commentary: WHO says drinking alcohol may increase chances of getting COVID-19. They really need to mind their own business.



Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

You are witnessing the entire world crumble in front of you because of the excruciating loss of life and paralyzing economic collapse. For weeks now, you have been inundated daily and sometimes hourly with incessant doom-and-gloom headlines. With seemingly no glimpse of hope in the immediate future, perhaps your one simple pleasure during this hurricane of tribulation is to pop the cork off your favorite 2014 malbec wine from Mendoza, Argentina.

Maybe you want to crack open an ice-cold IPA and sit on your porch because that is the closest you can get to visiting the outside world. Or maybe your one sweet temporary release from the steady stream of chaos is to fix yourself an old fashioned. Since the world seems to be ending, you treat yourself to two Amarena cherries imported from Modena, Italy, instead of the usual one.

However, the World Health Organization says that you shouldn't indulge in any alcohol, even in moderation. If you were against the WHO being defunded, you might be leading the brigade not to give them a dime now.

The World Health Organization is warning that drinking alcohol may put people more at risk for contracting coronavirus. The WHO also cautioned that alcohol consumption could increase the chances of engaging in risky behavior. That's kind of the deal with alcohol. You're not drinking six vodka sodas because it helps you file your taxes more accurately, you're guzzling them because you might engage in some risky behavior that you generally would not partake in.

WHO's Regional Office for Europe released a statement this week advocating that access to alcohol "should be restricted during lockdown." Maybe the WHO should restrict themselves from carrying water for the Chinese government, and then maybe we wouldn't be stuck at home drinking, and instead be happily at a bar drinking.

"Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19," the WHO statement read. "In particular, alcohol compromises the body's immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we should really ask ourselves what risks we are taking in leaving people under lockdown in their homes with a substance that is harmful both in terms of their health and the effects of their behavior on others, including violence," said Carina Ferreira-Borges, WHO Europe's program manager for alcohol and illicit drugs. Carina needs to sip on a cranberry Quarantini and stop trying to be the boss of me.

There are conspiracy theories on the internet that claim alcohol consumption can eliminate coronavirus (It doesn't, I tried).

"Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not," the WHO stated. "Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death."

Last month, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly recommended that his constituents drink vodka to help fight COVID-19.

"People should not only wash their hands with vodka but also poison the virus with it," Lukashenko advised Belarusians, according to the Times of London. "You should drink the equivalent of 40-50 milliliters of rectified spirit daily. But not at work."

"When you come out of the sauna, not only wash your hands, but also your insides with 100 milliliters [of vodka]," Lukashenko said. We have shower beers in America, and Belarus has sauna vodkas.

The European WHO said that alcohol is responsible for "3 million deaths a year worldwide," and encouraged "governments to enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption." Maybe the WHO needs to focus a little more on not tweeting out Chinese propaganda and a bit less time telling Americans how to live their lives.

Many Americans have discovered a newfound hobby during the lockdown -- recreational drinking. Americans have been hitting the bottle hard during the coronavirus crisis. Alcohol sales catapulted 55 percent in the week ending March 21, according to market research firm Nielsen. Sales of tequila, gin, and pre-mixed cocktails skyrocketed 75 percent compared to the same period last year. Wine sales were up 66 percent, and beer sales rose 42 percent. Online alcohol sales were up an astounding 243 percent. I'll drink to that!

Liquor stores have been deemed "essential" businesses; thus they are one of the handful of retailers that have been permitted to stay open during the coronavirus shutdown. If the liquor stores weren't open, you can be sure that there would be a lot more civil disobedience right about now. And now the World Health Organization wants to take away something that is the last refuge for many Americans.

So when you indulge in your favorite adult beverage this weekend, please remember to make a toast to the buzzkills over at the World Health Organization. Cheers!

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