I am starting to think that common sense really is not that common after all – we live in exceedingly stupid times. Exhibit 874: US anti-vaxxers are now urging people to drink their own urine to fight coronavirus. Over the weekend, Christopher Key, the leader of an anti-Covid-19 vaccine group called the “Vaccine Police”, posted videos online extolling the health benefits of what he described as “urine therapy”. According to the wizard of wee, there is “tons and tons of research … [and] peer-reviewed published papers on urine”; so if you do your own pee-search you will discover it is God’s own antidote to Covid-19. “This vaccine is the worst bioweapon I have ever seen,” Key said. “I drink my own urine!”
That is not the only questionable thing he does. Key was recently arrested for refusing to wear a mask and filming proceedings during a court hearing. The reason he was in court? He was arrested in April for refusing to wear a mask at a Whole Foods store. In August he made headlines for suggesting that pharmacists should be executed for administering coronavirus vaccines; in December he also set off on a road trip across the US with a fake badge and firearms, in a mission to arrest a Democratic governor over vaccine mandates. Very busy man, our Mr Key! I cannot help thinking that if his name was Mohammed his shenanigans would have had him locked up in Guantánamo Bay by now.
Key’s “urine therapy” is far from the only experimental – and highly dubious – Covid “cure” to be promoted during the pandemic. We all remember the former US president’s comments on the benefits of injecting bleach. Last year saw a prolonged bout of Ivermectin-mania. Now, along with urine, the right seems to be fixated on Viagra and colloidal silver. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly questioned the efficacy and safety of Covid vaccines, recently dedicated a portion of his show to hyping the potential of Viagra as a potential cure. Carlson seized on the story of a British nurse reportedly recovering from a Covid-19 coma, after being given a dose of Viagra, to sing the little blue pill’s praises. “Is there anything [Viagra] doesn’t cure?” Carlson joked. Yes, I am afraid it does not appear to cure stupidity.
Speaking of which, the conservative media personality Candace Owens recently told her social media followers that she takes a “teaspoon a day” of colloidal silver, a product that has also been touted as a Covid cure by the likes of Infowars founder Alex Jones. I am sure I do not need to tell you this but there is zero evidence that colloidal silver can help with Covid. On the contrary, taking too much can turn your skin blue permanently and, in rare cases, can even kill you. (I can never resist an opportunity to big-up my hero Wilkie Collins, so I urge you to read his underrated novel Poor Miss Finch, about a blind woman who falls in love with identical twins, one of whom turns blue after trying to cure his epilepsy with silver. The novel won’t cure Covid but it may provide temporary reprieve from existential ennui.)
The amount of misinformation about Covid cures is highly depressing, and it is important that we hold to account the people spreading dangerous falsehoods, and undermining trust in the vaccine. Still, let us be clear: the biggest obstacle towards ending this pandemic is not kooks such as Key and Owens. The obstacle is the rich countries that have been hoarding vaccines, and the likes of Pfizer and Moderna, who have been slow to license their vaccine technology (developed with taxpayer money) to poor countries. The fact that big pharma is making billions from a public health crisis is unconscionable. I am very pro-vaccine but I am running out of enthusiasm for boosters. The idea of potentially having to get a fourth shot soon, while so much of the world still cannot access a first dose, makes me sick. If only we had a vaccine for greed.