Taking chlorine dioxide (or its relatives, such as sodium hypochlorite) does not prevent or cure COVID-19. And it is dangerous.
Chlorine dioxide can cause acute kidney and liver failure, intestinal perforations with sepsis, vomiting & diarrhea, anemia, thyroid disruption, and neurological injury. It is not safe for human consumption. Not even if it comes labeled as a supplement in a food-grade bottle. And it doesn’t prevent or cure COVID-19.
Chlorine dioxide has long been the subject of dangerous health claims, especially in Latin America, and it’s only gotten worse with COVID-19. The United States FDA and similar drug safety regulators many other countries have warned against the use of chlorine dioxide, and the Pan-American Health Organization also wrote a round-up of these warnings way back in August 2020.
However, the myth that it is a “miracle cure” has persisted and maybe even grown in some parts of Latin America. Dear Pandemic’s own Sarah Coles, a family physician in Arizona, tells us that it has only recently started to come up in her practice. And it’s not some fringe belief! In spite of there being no evidence that it works and plenty of evidence that it’s dangerous, in some places the use of CLO2 is government-approved and part of the standard treatment protocol. It’s often prescribed by well-intentioned qualified clinicians.
Chlorine dioxide and sodium hypochlorite are common household chemicals. They are sold as household bleach and used as a disinfectant. During the pandemic, lots of companies have started selling products intended for human consumption that contain chlorine dioxide—marketing them with false claims that they can miraculously prevent or cure COVID-19. The products are often labeled as “Miracle Mineral Solution” or CLO2 supplements.
How did we get here? The Frontiers in Political Science article by Mohammed A. Mostajo-Radji (linked below) gives a fascinating history.
Here’s an excerpt: “Of note, populist governments tend to score low in the Freedom in the World Index (FWI) and pseudoscientific beliefs are often seen in cultures and regions with low freedom of speech. Interestingly, there was minimal chlorine dioxide consumption in countries that scored high in the FWI, while low scoring countries showed the highest consumption. Together, one can only conclude low science literacy and low freedom of speech, and not income inequality, were determinant in the pseudoscientific belief that chlorine dioxide could be consumed for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”