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VERIFY: Viral post says gargling water will prevent coronavirus; Our experts say false

It's an online claim that's been spreading on social media. It claims that gargling water can save you from the virus. The Verify Team looked into the science.

WASHINGTON — Question 1:  

Will gargling warm water with salt or vinegar really eliminate the coronavirus, as claimed in a viral post?


No. Our experts said that this is not based on scientific fact, and is a complete rumor. 


Maryland Department of Health

Dr. Larry William Chang, M.D., M.P.H - Johns Hopkins Global Health Initiative


As the latest strain of the coronavirus continues to spread, it's put a lot of people on edge. For that reason, many have been quick to believe online posts providing a miracle cure for the virus.

The viral post claims that coronavirus "remains in the throat for four days," before it heads to the lungs. The post then urges people to take the following actions: 

"If he drinks water a lot and gargling (sic) with warm water and salt or vinegar eliminates (sic) the virus." 

The post then asks people to spread the post, "because you can save someone." 

To find the truth, the Verify team reached out to Dr. Larry William Chang, from the Johns Hopkins University. 

"There's no evidence of that whatsoever," he said. 

Chang said that the virus is transmitted by small droplets, that are released when someone coughs or sneezes. He said the tiny droplets will then attach themselves to a person's cells.

"When you're drinking water," he said. "You're not going to wash away viruses, which may have already gone inside your cells." 

According to an advisory from the DC Department of Health, the best way to avoid the virus is to do the following: 

  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick
  • Stay home when feeling sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw that tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

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