Drinking alcoholic drinks will not protect you from COVID-19

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With 45 new COVID-19 cases, 4 recoveries; total now at 187 in the Philippines, everyone seems to be going into a state of panic.
And as a fallout, people believe just about anything and everything they’re going through on the internet.

Among several pieces of information, a letterhead from the famous US Hospital, St Luke’s, has been circulating claiming that drinking alcohol, especially vodka, can help reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 which, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not true.

On March 11, St. Luke posted a post on their Facebook page explaining how the news was fake, and they didn’t release any information or letter like that.
“False reports are circulating that say drinking alcohol can reduce the risk of COVID-19. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Saint Luke’s follows CDC guidance,” the post read.

Busting myths, misconceptions and misinformation about the deadly coronavirus, the WHO said: “No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.”

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Here is what happens in your body when you drink alcohol.

Photo by thom masat on Unsplash

As soon as the alcohol hits your stomach, it is absorbed into your bloodstream by around 20%.
The rest of the alcohol is absorbed by the small intestine, which has a much larger surface area for absorption.
Your liver metabolizes all alcohol in your body through two different enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase.
The first enzyme breaks down alcohol into an organic compound called acetaldehyde and then the aldehyde dehydrogenase further breaks down acetaldehyde into acetate.
Finally, the acetate gets converted to water and carbon dioxide.
Both of which are excreted out of the body.

However, the speed at which your body can process alcohol depends on how much alcohol you have had.
Your liver can only process one drink in an hour.
If you binge drink, all the extra alcohol will continue to accumulate in your body and make you drunk.

Alcohol and your immunity

Photo by Troy Chen on Unsplash

Research show that if excessive drinking or acute binge drinking of vodka (40% ethanol) causes the rise in the body’s number of bacteria.

Alcohol can also impair the immune responses in your respiratory pathways, which increases your risk of getting respiratory infections.
It reduces the number of white blood cells in your lungs, depletes zinc (a mineral which impacts the activity of macrophages, the white blood cells that fight viral infections amongst others), and increases the risk of inflammation.
This is why most alcoholics are exposed to viral infections such as the infection of flu and cytomegalovirus (mononucleosis).

It is recommended to just topical use of alcohol, in the form of hand sanitizers, to prevent COVID-19, and that too when your hands are otherwise free of dirt.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Otherwise, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and clean water. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash
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