Drinking alcohol won't boost coronavirus immunity, Italians warned

The Local Italy
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Drinking alcohol won't boost coronavirus immunity, Italians warned
A man in northwestern Italy carries a case of wine home on March 11th, a day after Italy imposed its national lockdown rules. Photo: AFP

Italian health officials reminded the public on Thursday that consuming alcoholic drinks will not increase immunity to Covid-19.


Italy's Higher Health Institute (ISS) published a report this week debunking false claims that consuming wine, beer and spirits could protect people from the viral disease.

The ISS stated that "consuming alcohol does not protect from Covid-19 in any way".

In fact, the report explains, heavy drinking increases the risk of infection because it "damages all the components of the immune system".

It states that alcohol consumption in fact increases the risk of contracting all types of viral infections by reducing the number of certain types of cells needed for immunity.


The Italian report referenced World Health Organisation advice on alcohol and coronavirus, which you can read here in English.

Officials strongly advised against excessive consumption of alcohol while in quarantine, pointing out that this can lead to addiction and is "closely connected to the risk of violence, especially violence towards one's partner".

Domestic violence reports in Italy, as in other countries, have soared since quarantine began.

The ISS debunked several false claims currently circulating about alcohol and the coronavirus, including one that says heavy drinking kills the virus in air that is inhaled.

In fact, alcohol "does not disinfect the mouth and the throat and does not give any form of protection,” the ISS writes.

An alcohol concentrations of at least 60 percent "works as a disinfectant of the skin, but it does not have this effect when it is ingested into the organism,” it explains.

The report recommended people avoid drinking alcohol altogether, and described lockdown as "a unique opportunity to stop drinking."

Meanwhile in Sweden, shops have been forced to put up signs informing customers that alcohol such as vodka and gin does not work as a substitute for hand sanitiser.



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