Ahmedabad- Doctors in India are warning against using cow dung in the hopes of warding off COVID-19, claiming that there is no scientific evidence for its efficacy and that it could spread other diseases.
India has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with 22.66 million cases and 246,116 deaths recorded so far. Real figures may be five to ten times higher, according to experts, and people are unable to find hospital beds, oxygen, or medications, causing many to die due to a lack of care.
Some believers in Gujarat have been going to cow shelters once a week to coat their bodies in cow dung and urine in the hopes of boosting their immunity to fight and recover from the COVID-19 infection.
The cow is a sacred symbol of life and the earth in Hinduism, and Hindus have used cow dung for cleaning and prayer rituals for centuries, claiming it to have medicinal and antiseptic properties.
Gautam Manilal Borisa, a pharmaceuticals associate manager, said the practice helped him recover from COVID-19 last year. "We see ... even doctors come here. Their belief is that this therapy improves their immunity and they can go and tend to patients with no fear," said Gautam.
Participants hug or honour the cows at the shelter while waiting for the dung and urine mixture on their bodies to dry, and they practice yoga to increase their energy levels. After that, the packs are washed in milk or buttermilk.
Alternative COVID-19 therapies have been consistently cautioned against by doctors and scientists in India and around the world, who believe they can lead to a false sense of security and exacerbate health problems.
"There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief. There are also health risks involved in smearing or consuming these products - other diseases can spread from the animal to humans," Dr. JA Jayalal, the Indian Medical Association's national president, said.
There are also fears that the procedure, which involved people meeting in groups, may contribute to the virus's spread. Madhucharan Das, in charge of a cow shelter in Ahmedabad, said they were restricting the number of participants.