An Iranian man who describes himself as an Islamic prophetic medicine healer has prescribed drinking camel urine as a treatment for the Chinese coronavirus, Radio Farda reported Monday.
In a video that has reportedly gone viral across social media, the Chairman of the Prophetic Medicine Society Medhi Sabili urged people to consume the urine when it is both “fresh and warm.” It was quickly ridiculed by Iranians, many of whom warned about the dangers of such treatment.
The consumption of camel urine, as well as camel meat and camel meat, is not uncommon across the Middle East. In some countries, including Saudi Arabia, many believe that it can cure a range of ailments.
داروی جدید ضد کرونا طبق روایات اسلامی: شاش شتر. pic.twitter.com/n6W2NDXgFx
— رضا حقيقتنژاد (@rezahn56) April 19, 2020
Rather than curing the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) last year warned that camel urine was actually a transmitter of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a virus from the same family as the Chinese coronavirus causing the current pandemic.
The WHO noted at the time:
Although most of human cases of MERS-CoV infections have been attributed to human-to-human infections in health care settings, current scientific evidence suggests that dromedary camels are a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans.
The origins of the virus are not fully understood but, according to the analysis of different virus genomes, it is believed that it may have originated in bats and was transmitted to camels sometime in the distant past.
The report did reaffirm the nutritional benefits of other camel products:
Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking, or other heat treatments.
Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS-CoV infection. These people should avoid contact with camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.
Iran remains one of the countries most badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, some Islamic doctors have attempted to come up with their own cures for the infection, with remedies including placing a cotton ball dipped in violet oil up one’s anus, or dropping bitter watermelon oil in ears and nose.
Many Iranians also believe in the effectiveness of Iranian traditional medicine, which largely centers around taking large doses of fruit and vegetables. These methods are so popular that the price of such products has risen since the outbreak began.
There are currently no known scientific cures for the Chinese coronavirus, nor has a vaccine been developed. Trials are currently taking place around the world, although there is currently no fixed date for its release. Many expect the vaccine to reach mass distribution as late as the second half of 2021.
According to recent data, Iran has so far recorded around 83,500 cases and 5,200 deaths from the coronavirus, making it the eighth-most affected country worldwide. Many doubt the accuracy of official Iranian statistics, however; some estimates say upwards of 30,000 have died of coronavirus infections in the country.