With the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak sparking fear and paranoia across the globe, various hoaxes and misinformation about the disease are doing the rounds on social media. Throwing their hat into the race are the far-right Trump-supporting QAnon conspiracy theorists, who suggest that drinking bleach could keep the deadly infection at bay.
According to a report, QAnon advocates are urging people to drink a fatal concoction known as Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS, which they claim can provide protection against the rapidly spreading disease. Other 'magical' properties attributed to the drink include curing of diseases such as HIV and neurological conditions such as autism.
A toxic blend
MMS is essentially an industrial bleaching compound known as chlorine dioxide. It is produced by combining sodium chlorite solution with acids, mostly derived from the juices of citrus fruits. The final product, which is toxic, can be lethal when consumed orally in high doses, with diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration-led blood pressure being some of the side effects. The FDA has strongly advised against its consumption and has debunked its one-cure for all claims.
According to the FDA, websites sell solutions that are 28 percent sodium chlorite in distilled water, with instructions to mix it with citric juices to 'activate' it. Some sellers also provide an 'activator' along with the diluted sodium chlorite solution.
Jim Humble, a self-styled 'Archbishop', a former aerospace research engineer, and gold prospector, states that it was during a mining operation in South America that he discovered MMS.
How did this become the 'magic' cure for the coronavirus outbreak?
Popular QAnon supporter, YouTuber, and self-proclaimed dispeller of misinformation, Jordan Sather, spoke about the 'cure' in a recent YouTube video, where he said, "MMS the whole s**t out of everything." He also discussed the QAnon held theory that the coronavirus is a product of bio-engineering. However, the video-sharing platform jumped into action and took down the video, much to Sather's chagrin. He tweeted his displeasure.
Another QAnon theorist Twitter user, @chiefpolice2, also tweeted his backing of the potion and urged fellow users to consume '20-20-20 spray', an MMS variant.
Sold as 'sacrament'
Despite being banned, the availability of MMS can be attributed to the 'Genesis II Church of Health and Healing', Humble's Mexico-based Church, which sells MMS on its website. It claims that the solution can cure various ailments, including the coronavirus that has already made its way to American shores.
Humble, recently wrote in a newsletter that, "I have reason to believe, MMS (chlorine dioxide), can be very effective in both preventing and eradicating the coronavirus.... I would say, let MMS be your first line of defence." The "church's" website categorises MMS products as 'sacraments' and also provides a list of 'sacrament suppliers' across the world.
Comparing the promotion of MMS by QAnon theorists to right-wing politicians promoting vitamin supplements, Mike Rothschild, a journalist covering the QAnon movement told The Daily Beast, "You can sell this stuff to people and make a mint off of it."
Who are QAnon theorists?
The origin of the term can be traced to a series of posts in 2017 by an anonymous user of the platform, 4Chan, known as 'Q'. Posts by the user claimed that Donald Trump was engaged in a domestic 'war' against various Democratic leaders, high-ranking officials within the government and liberal Hollywood bigwigs who are engaged in international child sex trafficking ring.
This took root among various right-wing supporters and eventually led to the birth of the 'QAnon theory'. These theorists have received shout outs from the president himself on several occasions.
Recently, it was reported that along with anti-vaccination proponents, the QAnon theorist spread rumours about Bill Gates being the engineer of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Sather himself based such claims on the patent that was by the Pirbright Institute in England, develop a weakened form of a coronavirus in order to develop a vaccination against respiratory illnesses in animals. He tweeted his 'proof' on January 22, 2020.
Talking about Gates being the harbinger of doom according to these theorists, Rothschild said, "In the conspiracy-theory community, Bill Gates is seen as this sort of budding eugenicist."