With the rise of the Delta variant in Indonesia, misleading claims on products claiming to be cures and preventions are on the rise.
Hospitals are struggling to cope with growing numbers of patients and oxygen shortages, and people are increasingly desperate to get help for sick family and friends.
We’ve looked at a few examples of shared health misinformation.
1. Claims that an antiparasitic drug has been approved
There have been a growing number of Indonesians sharing claims about the use of the antiparasitic drug, ivermectin.
Interest increased after local media falsely reported that Indonesian authorities had granted him emergency approval.
But the drug is still being tested and has yet to be proven as a cure for Covid.
The reports were based on a July 15 statement released by the Food and Drugs Authority of Indonesia (BPOM).
But soon after, BPOM official Penny Lukito told local media that no emergency approval had been given for ivermectin.
The confusion arose because the drug was put on a list with other drugs, two of which had emergency approval.
Ms Lukito explained that ivermectin was included because it is in clinical trials in eight hospitals, but results are not expected until October and no approval has been given so far.
Ivermectin was already being promoted as a treatment by some public figures, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that it should only be used in certain clinical settings.
Health practitioner Reza Gunawan has promoted ivermectin on his Twitter account, where he has more than 350,000 followers.
When we asked him why he was doing this, he replied, “Ivermectin is relatively safe, inexpensive, effective, quick and easy to administer, and can complement the current immunization program.
He added that he was not a doctor.
The manufacturer, Merck, said there was no scientific study yet to prove ivermectin works against Covid-19.
Dr Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, said it should not be used without supervision and that there could be “very serious side effects if not used under supervision of a doctor “.
There are quite a few countries, including the UK, that are investigating this treatment as a possible treatment.
2. Claims that a brand of milk produces antibodies
Several videos showing Indonesians rushing to buy Nestlé Bear Brand milk have gone viral.
This came after claims emerged on social media and WhatsApp groups that drinking this brand of milk could produce Covid antibodies.
The price of milk has climbed 455%.
The origin of this claim is unclear and there is no evidence that drinking milk can produce Covid antibodies.
Nestlé in Indonesia told the BBC the company has never claimed that its product can generate a Covid antibody response, which can only come from a vaccine or a previous infection.
3. Immunity boosters and natural remedies
Social media posts are widely shared about a product called propolis, which is described as an immunity booster.
These have been circulating on Twitter and Facebook, with many claiming the product helps protect you against Covid-19.
Propolis is a natural substance produced by bees and sold as an alternative remedy to treat inflammation or sores.
It has been certified for sale in Indonesia since 2018 as a traditional medicine and health supplement by the country’s food and drug regulatory body.
“British propolis”, as it is called in Indonesia, has an official Instagram account where claims have been made that it can help against viruses, but not specifically Covid-19.
However, an article we saw on the official account talks about consuming this product “in addition to wearing masks” and refers to “prevention from within by increasing body resistance”.
There is no evidence that he is doing anything to prevent Covid infections.
We reached out to the company marketing the product in Indonesia to ask them the question, but had not received a response at the time of posting.
There have been a lot of claims about “immunity boosters” during the pandemic, not only in Indonesia but in many other countries.
We asked Dr. Faheem Younus, head of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland in the United States who tackles health myths on his Twitter account. on claims that you can prevent Covid this way.
He says the term ‘immunity booster’ is very general, and there is no evidence that these substances work against Covid.
We have also seen allegations shared on social media regarding the use of other natural remedies for Covid in Indonesia.
For example, it has been suggested to drink or inhale cajuput oil, a vegetable oil typically used to treat skin irritations, to prevent coronavirus.
Again, this product has not been shown to work against Covid-19.
The oil has similar properties to eucalyptus oil and, in fact, if inhaled it can cause respiratory problems and be harmful.