A fake claim that cocaine cures the coronavirus is spreading online and the French government has been forced to warn people that it won't


The French government and the World Health Organisation have been forced to warn that cocaine does not cure the coronavirus in order to dispel a widely circulated fake news story spreading online.

After a fake screenshot suggesting that cocaine "kills" coronavirus was shared thousands of times on Twitter over the past week, the French health ministry published a tweet on Sunday which said: "No, cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people's health."


France has been hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus with 1,209 confirmed cases and 19 deaths so far.

As the virus has spread, a series of myths and conspiracy theories about it have been disseminated online.

The myth that cocaine would be an effective countermeasure against catching coronavirus appears to have started after several tweets with fake screenshots of a news channel with the headline "cocaine kills coronavirus" were shared by accounts with large numbers of followers, and subsequently retweeted thousands of times.  

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also debunked the use of cocaine in a list of myths about the coronavirus. "Cocaine is a stimulating and addictive drug. Its consumption causes serious side effects and is detrimental to people's health," it said.

The warnings follow a wave of conspiracy theories and misinformation regarding the origin of the coronavirus since the initial outbreak in the Wuhan province of China.

Various theories shared on social media have claimed that the virus was created as a bio-weapon, a population control scheme, as well a theory claiming it was caused by the deployment of 5G technology in China.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter have announced they will all take strict measures to try and counter the spread of misinformation after the WHO said there was a "massive infodemic" accompanying the outbreak which "makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it."

In a blog post last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the platform would remove conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus which were flagged by health organisations, as well as labelling coronavirus misinformation with fact check labels warning users that they had been rated "false."

The UK government has also moved to counter the spread of misleading information about the coronavirus by setting up a fake news department within the government.
"Teams across Whitehall have been brought together into a unit to help provide a comprehensive picture on the potential extent, scope and impact of disinformation," said the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in a statement.

"Officials are working with strategic communications experts to make sure the government is prepared to respond where necessary.

"The work includes regular and robust engagement with the social media companies to monitor interference and limit the spread of disinformation."

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