“The Ministry of Health cannot risk recommending something that has no scientific basis,” said Miguel Ángel Delgado, a senior ministry official.
However, the opposition-controlled Bolivian congress encourages the use of chlorine dioxide. Last week, the Senate approved a bill authorizing “the manufacture, marketing, emergency supply and use of a chlorine dioxide solution for the prevention and treatment of coronaviruses”.The bill would require the approval of the interim president, Jeanine Áñez, who is in quarantine after being tested positive for the coronavirus. She interacted with opposition lawmakers loyal to Evo Morales, the former leader who was forced to resign last year after a disputed election.
Many fearful residents of Cochabamba, where opposition is strong, try chlorine dioxide. Cochabamba has reported around 440 deaths from Covid-19, a quarter of the total number of deaths reported in Bolivia. The real balance sheet would be higher.
” I’m afraid. I have to try it, ”said Andrés Poma, a 34-year-old teacher who is skeptical of the besieged health services that can help him if he gets sick. ” What am I going to do? Wait to die at the door of the hospital or the door of my house? ”
Provincial health officials have reported 10 cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning in the past week.
Cochabamba State Governor Esther Soria said she supported a state bill authorizing the use of chlorine dioxide and traditional medicine to treat Covid-19. The mayor of Cochabamba, José María Leyes, said he was in favor of the free distribution of the bleach to treat patients.
But Fernando Rengel, president of the Cochabamba Scientific Association, said that there are old beliefs that the toxic substance is “miraculous” and cures cancer, AIDS, malaria and other diseases, “but none scientific study does not prove that it cures any disease ”.
Chlorine dioxide is one of the many bogus treatments that have been promoted, often by marginal groups online, since the start of the pandemic.
In April, a federal judge in South Florida ordered a Colombian group, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to stop selling a similar product, Miracle Mineral Solution, in the United States. Prosecutors said Genesis has marketed the solution as a treatment for Covid-19, autism, and other ailments.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously issued public warnings that MMS can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe dehydration.
In April, Donald Trump wondered if disinfectants could be injected or ingested to fight Covid-19, causing intense backlash from doctors and other health officials.