NOT REAL NEWS: False coronavirus claims and phony remedies


(AP) – A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:

CLAIM: Eating alkaline foods will stave off the novel coronavirus, which has a pH level of 5.5 to 8.5.

THE FACTS: A false post circulating on social media claims that COVID-19 has a pH level between 5.5 to 8.5, and in order to fend off the virus people must consume alkaline foods. Both points are false.

First, a virus does not have a pH level. Second, the body’s pH levels cannot be changed through diet.

“A virus itself does not have a pH,” said Sarah Stanley, associate professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

Stanley explained in an email that “pH is something that applies to a water based solution, which a virus is not.” In addition, she said, it’s not possible for diet to change the pH of blood, cells or tissues. The body regulates pH levels; it’s not something a person would want to change. “Eating a healthy and balanced diet supports immunity and can be helpful for fighting off infections. However, there is no evidence that consuming alkaline foods specifically is beneficial,” she said.

The post cites the “Journal of Virology & Antiviral Research” and states: “This is to inform us all that the pH for corona virus varies from 5.5 to 8.5. All we need to do, to beat coronavirus, we need to take more of an alkaline foods that are above the pH level of the virus.”

It lists a number of foods to fight off the novel coronavirus, including lemons, limes, and pineapples, but the pH levels provided for them are incorrect.

For example, it gives a pH level of 9 for lemons and a level of 9.2 for limes, when both have a pH of about 2, a food science specialist noted.

“These pH values for these foods are completely wrong,” Donald Schaffner, extension specialist in food science at Rutgers University, told the AP. “The human body is designed to be really good at maintaining its pH.” Schaffner said people should eat those foods if they want, but “the best way to keep from getting a virus is to stay away from people.”

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