COVID19 pandemic turns people superstitious

Covid-19 Health Pandemic

Magic‌ ‌remedies,‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌boosters‌ ‌claims‌ ‌of‌ ‌prevention‌ ‌of‌ ‌COVID19‌ ‌have‌ ‌risen‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic.‌ ‌Fear‌ ‌and‌ ‌anxiety‌ ‌of‌ ‌Covid-19‌ ‌increased‌ ‌belief‌ ‌in‌ ‌superstitions‌ ‌and‌ misinformation ‌ among‌ ‌society

Bangalore: Misinformation,‌ ‌false‌ ‌claims,‌ ‌and‌ ‌superstitions‌ have seen an increase along with the number of cases during the ‌pandemic.‌ ‌Boom, a fact-checking ‌website, ‌shows ‌35‌ ‌percent‌ ‌of‌ ‌ ‌false‌ ‌or‌ ‌misleading‌ ‌claims‌ about COVID19  ‌found‌ ‌were‌ ‌circulated‌ ‌with‌ ‌videos.‌ ‌Dr.‌ ‌Narendra‌ ‌Nayak,‌ ‌president‌ ‌of‌ ‌the ‌Federation‌ ‌of‌ ‌Indian‌ ‌Rationalist‌ ‌Associations‌ (FIRA)‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“I‌ ‌filed‌ ‌three‌ ‌complaints‌ ‌against‌ ‌false‌ ‌advertisements‌ ‌of‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌boosters. ‌The‌ ‌Advertising‌ ‌Standards Council‌ ‌of‌ ‌India‌ ‌(ASCI)‌ ‌has‌ ‌upheld‌ ‌my‌ ‌complaints‌ ‌and‌ ‌asked‌ ‌these‌ ‌companies‌ ‌to‌ ‌withdraw‌ ‌their‌ ‌advertisements.”‌ ‌

 These companies ‌ ‌were‌ ‌selling‌ ‌tablets ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌website‌ ‌and‌ ‌Facebook‌ ‌advertisement‌, ‌with‌ ‌a‌ claim‌ ‌of‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌booster‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID19.‌ ‌Three‌ ‌companies‌ ‌sold‌ ‌tablets‌ ‌whose name‌ ‌starts‌ ‌with‌ ‌COR ‌and‌ ‌claimed‌ ‌it‌ ‌as‌ ‌an‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌booster, added Narendra.‌ In‌ ‌an‌ ‌email‌ ‌reply‌ ‌to‌ ‌Nayak,‌ ‌ASCI‌ ‌states‌ ‌that‌ ‌upon‌ ‌consideration‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌complaint,‌ and‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌absence‌ ‌of‌ ‌any‌ ‌response‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌advertiser,‌ ‌the‌ ‌claims made by them, ‌ ‌‘‌‘Fight‌ ‌against‌ ‌Covid-19’,‌ ‌‘Immunity‌ ‌Booster’,‌ ‌and‌ ‌‘Divine‌ ‌Touch’,‌ ‌were‌ ‌not‌ ‌substantiated and ‌were‌ ‌misleading.‌ ‌ ‌“We‌ ‌have‌ ‌also‌ ‌advised‌ ‌the‌ ‌advertiser‌ ‌to‌ ‌suitably‌ ‌modify‌ ‌or‌ ‌withdraw‌ ‌the‌ ‌said‌ ‌advertisement,”‌ ‌added‌ ‌ASCI. ‌

A Study found that of the 37 approaches that claimed to boost immunity, the top ones recorded were diet (77 per cent of web pages), fruit (69 per cent), vitamins (67 per cent), antioxidants (52 per cent), probiotics (51 per cent), minerals (50 per cent), and vitamin C (49 per cent).  ‌Dr.‌ ‌Nayak‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“‌ ‌There‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌Whats‌ ‌app‌ ‌message‌ ‌and‌ ‌advertisement‌ ‌which‌ ‌claimed‌ ‌that‌ a ‌tablet‌ ‌called‌ ‌‘Samathva’‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌taken‌ ‌by‌ ‌healthy‌ ‌people‌ ‌and‌ ‌also‌ ‌by‌ ‌Covid ‌19‌ ‌‌patients‌ ‌to‌ ‌boost‌ ‌their‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌against‌ ‌the virus.‌ ‌There‌ ‌is‌ ‌no‌ ‌evidence‌ ‌that shows‌ ‌that these‌ ‌tablets‌ ‌boost‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌or ‌help‌ ‌to‌ ‌prevent‌ ‌contraction of ‌COVID19.”

  • Artical explains superstitions among Educated

However,‌ ‌advertisements‌ ‌of‌ ‌these tablets‌ ‌claiming‌ to be ‌immunity‌ ‌booster‌ ‌are‌ ‌still‌ visible in pharmacies and are going viral..‌ ‌A‌ ‌representative‌ ‌of‌ ‌Ayurvivek‌ ‌Ayurveda‌ ‌Pharmacy‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“We‌ ‌have‌ ‌Samathva‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌booster‌ ‌medicine‌ ‌available‌ ‌in‌ ‌all‌ ‌the‌ ‌pharmacies‌ ‌in‌ ‌Karnataka.‌ ‌This‌ ‌tablet‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌immunity‌ ‌booster.‌ ‌People‌ ‌who‌ ‌did‌ ‌not‌ ‌contract‌ ‌COVID19‌ ‌should‌ ‌take‌ ‌four‌ ‌tablets‌ ‌per‌ ‌day—two ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌morning‌ ‌and‌ ‌two‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌evening.” ‌ ‌

 ‌Ayush‌ ‌ministry‌ ‌has‌ ‌‌approved‌‌ ‌certain‌ ‌Ayurvedic‌ ‌medicines‌ ‌like‌ ‌Astha-15‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌effective‌ ‌treatment‌ ‌of‌ ‌respiratory‌ ‌disorders‌ ‌in‌ ‌Covid19‌ ‌patients.‌ ‌Ayurvedic‌ ‌Doctor‌ ‌Nayna‌ ‌Murthy‌ ‌differs‌ ‌with‌ ‌the ‌claims‌ ‌made by‌ ‌rationalists.‌ ‌She‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“Ayurvedic‌ ‌medicines‌ ‌contain‌ ‌highly‌ ‌rich‌ ‌vitamins‌ ‌which‌ ‌contribute‌ ‌to‌ ‌boosting‌ ‌immunity.‌ ‌All‌ ‌these‌ ‌boosters‌ ‌are‌ ‌advised‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌since‌ childhood.‌ ‌Immunity‌ ‌boosters‌ ‌are‌ ‌mainly‌ ‌herbals‌ ‌that‌ ‌go‌ ‌through‌ ‌purification‌ ‌and‌ ‌then‌ ‌only‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌made‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌form‌ ‌of‌ ‌pills.‌ All‌ ‌medicines‌ ‌in‌ ‌Ayurveda‌ ‌go‌ ‌through‌ ‌clinical‌ ‌trials‌ ‌and‌ ‌are approved‌ ‌by‌ ‌the Ayush‌ ‌ministry.‌ ‌Immunity‌ ‌boosters‌ ‌won’t‌ ‌cure‌ ‌COVID19‌ ‌but‌ ‌can make‌ ‌you‌ ‌stronger‌ ‌to‌ ‌fight‌ ‌various‌ ‌viruses.‌ ‌Most‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌allopathic‌ ‌doctors‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌believe‌ ‌in‌ ‌Ayurveda.‌ ‌We‌ ‌treat‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌basis‌ ‌of‌ ‌symptoms‌ ‌and‌ ‌not‌ ‌according‌ ‌to‌ ‌disease.‌”

 ‌Dr.‌ ‌PV‌ ‌Bhandary,‌ ‌a‌ ‌psychiatrist‌ ‌in‌ ‌Udupi‌ ‌highlighted‌ ‌how‌ ‌scientific‌ ‌behavior‌ ‌among‌ ‌the‌ ‌society‌ ‌has‌ ‌reduced‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic.‌ ‌He‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“There‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌significant‌ ‌rise‌ ‌in‌ ‌patients‌ ‌with‌ ‌false‌ ‌beliefs‌ ‌after‌ ‌COVID19.‌ ‌Majority‌ ‌of‌ ‌them‌ ‌believe‌ ‌in‌ ‌magical‌ ‌remedies,‌ ‌false‌ ‌beliefs‌ ‌or‌ ‌feel‌ ‌that‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌a curse‌ ‌to‌ ‌them.‌ ‌‌ ‌One more patient‌ ‌whose‌ ‌all‌ ‌test‌ ‌reports were‌ ‌negative‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID19‌ ‌‌ ‌was‌ ‌anxious‌ that‌ ‌she‌ ‌had‌ ‌COVID19.‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌a‌ ‌visit‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌couple‌ ‌who‌ ‌were‌ ‌very‌ ‌well‌ ‌educated.‌ ‌Their‌ ‌father‌ ‌was‌ ‌suffering‌ ‌from‌ ‌mental‌ ‌illness‌ ‌after‌ ‌COVID19.‌ ‌But‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌treating‌ ‌him‌ ‌with‌ ‌some‌ ‌herbal‌ ‌medicines. ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌seen‌ ‌many‌ ‌patients‌ ‌believing‌ ‌in‌ ‌these‌ ‌false‌ ‌claims.”‌ ‌

B‌ ‌Subbarao,‌ ‌member‌ ‌of‌ ‌Karnataka‌ ‌State‌ ‌Rationalist‌ ‌Association‌ ‌said‌, ‌“We‌ ‌have‌ ‌come‌ ‌across‌ ‌many‌ cases‌ ‌of‌ ‌superstitions.‌ ‌As‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic‌ ‌has‌ ‌affected‌ ‌ ‌employment,‌ ‌ ‌many‌ ‌educated‌ ‌people‌ ‌have‌ ‌lost‌ ‌their‌ ‌jobs‌ ‌during‌ ‌this‌ ‌period.‌ ‌There‌ ‌are‌ ‌instances‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌reduction‌ ‌in‌ ‌rationality‌ ‌and‌ ‌these‌ ‌unemployed‌ ‌people‌ ‌are‌ ‌visiting‌ ‌astrologers‌.‌ ‌They‌ ‌promise‌ ‌them‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌would‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌job‌ ‌within‌ ‌eight ‌to‌ ‌ten‌ ‌months.‌ But‌ ‌now‌ ‌they‌ ‌still haven’t‌ ‌got‌ ‌any‌ ‌jobs‌ ‌ ‌and‌ have ‌lost‌ ‌so much‌ ‌money‌ ‌to‌ astrologers.”‌ ‌

Dr. Debanjan Banerjee, psychiatrist at NIMHANS Hospital focused on how the mind works and how it tends to believe in misinformation. He said that the mind tends to believe misinformation because of uncertainty. We had patients who believed that they already have COVID19 and they are going to die. During a crisis, one’s mind is very fertile to believe in misinformation and vulnerable to everything it sees. Need for information and availability of excess information has also increased. If it’s a viral message from social media, the mind tends to believe in it very easily. It contributes to stress.”

Bhandary‌ ‌added‌ how‌ ‌superstitions‌ ‌among‌ ‌society‌ are ‌on‌ ‌a‌ ‌rise‌ ‌due‌ ‌to‌ ‌fear‌ ‌and‌ ‌anxiety‌ ‌of‌ ‌the pandemic .‌ ‌He‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“I‌ ‌had‌ ‌one‌ ‌patient‌ ‌who‌ ‌believed‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌was‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌end‌ ‌because‌ ‌of‌ ‌COVID19,‌ ‌and‌ ‌his‌ ‌family‌ ‌also‌ ‌believed‌ ‌the‌ ‌same.‌ ‌All‌ ‌such‌ ‌misconceptions‌ ‌and‌ ‌disinformation‌ ‌is‌ ‌getting‌ ‌spread‌ ‌easily.‌ ‌In‌ ‌Udupi,‌ ‌there‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌Mariamma‌ ‌temple.‌ ‌There‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌huge‌ ‌crowd‌ ‌to‌ ‌drink‌ ‌holy‌ ‌water‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic.‌ ‌These‌ ‌people‌ ‌believed‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Whats‌app‌ ‌message‌ ‌which‌ ‌claimed‌ ‌that‌ ‌whoever‌ ‌drinks‌ ‌this‌ ‌holy‌ ‌water‌ ‌from‌ ‌Mariamma‌ ‌temple‌ ‌won’t‌ ‌contract‌ ‌COVID19.”‌ ‌

Dr.‌ ‌Bhandary‌ ‌emphasized‌ ‌on‌ ‌bringing changes in the school‌ ‌education‌ ‌system‌ in order ‌to‌ ‌improve‌ ‌scientific‌ ‌thinking‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌society.‌ ‌He‌ ‌said‌ ‌“‌I‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌see‌ ‌any ‌politicians believing‌ ‌in‌ ‌science.‌ ‌In‌ ‌our‌ ‌country‌ ‌the‌ ‌section‌ ‌of‌ ‌people‌ ‌who‌ ‌criticize‌ ‌superstitions‌ ‌and‌ ‌believe‌ ‌in‌ ‌rationality‌ ‌are‌ ‌minor.‌ ‌No‌ ‌community‌ ‌is‌ ‌open‌ ‌to‌ ‌criticism.‌ ‌We‌ ‌should‌ ‌start‌ ‌from‌ ‌our‌ ‌education‌ ‌system.‌ ‌There‌ ‌should‌ ‌be‌ ‌more‌ ‌scientific‌ educational ‌programs‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌school.”  ‌ ‌

Dr. Banerjee added, ‌“We need to improve community awareness and should try debunking myths. We also recommend digital distancing like dedicate only specific hours say one hour to watch news. We also give list of authentic websites like WHO,ICMR, NIH to people to go and verify social media viral message and authentic sources. It’s a collective responsibility of media, physicians and psychiatric to debunk the misinformation and educate society.”