Misinformation about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Iran has reportedly claimed the lives of over 700 people who had believed that toxic methanol cures the virus, according to Iranian officials. According to AP News, the number is even believed to be higher, with some 200 people dying outside of the hospital, said an adviser to the Iranian Health Ministry, Hossein Hassanian.
This comes after months of reports about bootleg alcohol being sold in order to fight the deadly virus. Misinformation within the Middle Eastern nation – claiming alcohol as a possible cure or prevention for the virus – has led to the mass consumption of bootleg alcohol in Iran. Bootleg alcohol can occasionally even contain bleach to disguise the color before sale.
The Iranian population turning to bootleggers for cures has been further spurred on by a distrust of government policies. While Iran is slowly starting to ease lockdown restrictions, it was one of the worst-hit nations by the deadly virus earlier this year.
Alcohol poisoning has skyrocketed ten times over in Iran this year ever since the outbreak, according to a government report released earlier this month. It is reported to have killed 728 people between February 20 and April 7, compared to 66 deaths recorded from the year before. Many are also believed to have lost their eyesight as a result of alcohol poisoning.