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False claim: Tonic water and zinc will kill the coronavirus

Social media users have been sharing a video of a doctor making the primary claim that quinine present in Schweppes tonic water and zinc will "knock out" the COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The doctor makes multiple other claims related to COVID-19 in the 25-minute video but begins by promoting quinine and zinc, a claim repeated in accompanying text by other Facebook users sharing his video ( here ) and  (here )​.  

One post reads: “SHARE THIS NOW!! DR TALKS ABOUT THE REALITY ABOUT COVID-19 A real Doctor telling it like it is (warning intense language). If you have flu like symptoms get some Schweppes Tonic Water which contains Quinine and use 50 to 100mg of Zinc this is said to be a PROVEN fast fix to knock out the Coronavirus, a doctor has confirmed in the states that after they have been giving this combination to patients, within 12-18 hours they are walking out of the hospital cured! Make this post go viral NOW!! Don’t forget to join Common Sense Health”

The man in the video is Dr. Eric Napute, a chiropractor in Missouri ( here ). The original video streamed live on April 6, 2020 and has since been deleted. It had over 21 million views according to a screenshot shared by Buzzfeed ( here )​ 

This advice comes after hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, has been recommended by President Donald Trump to treat the new coronavirus though it is still in testing phases. In an April 4 exclusive, Reuters reported that in mid-March, Trump personally pressed federal health officials to make malaria drugs available to treat the novel coronavirus, though they had been untested against COVID-19 ( here ). 

According to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of April 16, “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19” ( here ). 

Quinine is also used in the treatment of malaria. Neither the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nor the World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommend its use in COVID-19 patients.

Tonic water does contain small amounts of quinine.​ According to Harvard Health's website in an answer to a question about treating leg cramps with tonic water, an expert explains:  "Tonic water contains no more than 83 mg of quinine per liter—a much lower concentration than the 500 to 1,000 mg in the therapeutic dose of quinine tablets." ( here )​​ 

The World Health Organization explains on its website:​ "While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available."​ ( here

Fever Tree, a drink company that produces tonic water, has a page dedicated to misinformation about quinine and coronavirus ( here ). On this page, it explains: ​ 

“Whilst hydroxychloroquine and quinine are both used in anti-malarial drugs, the quinine we use is naturally derived from the bark of the Cinchona tree. Hydroxychloroquine is a synthetically manufactured drug, used to treat malaria and developed based on the chemical structure of quinine.”

Fever Tree also says: “Anti-malaria drugs contain a significantly higher amount of quinine than tonic water so we would not advise using our tonic water for anything other than making a delicious drink to keep your spirits up during this difficult time.”

There is no scientific evidence that tonic water and zinc can prevent or treat COVID-19. As of mid-April 2020, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for the illness.

VERDICT

False: Tonic water and zinc has not been proven to prevent or cure the coronavirus

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here   . ​ 

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