UP textbook meds for cold end up as COVID-19 cure at WhatsApp university

Zoology textbook discussed common cold, not COVID-19 disease

By Vivek Mishra
Published: Tuesday 24 March 2020

A textbook on zoology that described the symptoms of the common cold was circulated on WhatsApp and other social media, saying that it carried information on drugs used to allegedly cure the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The textbook, called Modern Zoology, written by Ramesh Gupta, used to be a part of the Uttar Pradesh Intermediate Board syllabus and is still a popular reference among students.

Ravi Kumar, a resident of UP’s Bahraich district is one such student. After he received the WhatsApp forward, he was shocked to learn that the textbook carried information about the alleged cure for the COVID-19 disease.

Down To Earth, however, obtained a copy of the textbook and found that the section in question described the common cold and not the novel coronavirus, as claimed in the WhatsApp forward.

The chapter titled ‘Health and Disease’ carries a section that talks about different kinds of colds.

DTE found that a column from the chapter describing the common cold was spread on social media, claiming that there were drugs used for the treatment of the COVID-19 disease.

“The common cold is caused by many kinds of viruses. 75 per cent of them contain the rhinovirus and the rest are comprised of coronavirus,” the column in the chapter said.

The last sentence in the column said that the drugs used for the treatment for the common cold — not the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) — were aspirin, anti-histamines and nasal spray.

The textbook said that the drugs listed were used only for the treatment of the common cold and were not a cure for it.

There is no cure for the common cold yet.

The section circulating on social media was a photo taken from an old edition of the textbook. A new edition of the textbook, however, carries the same information.

There were four different groups of the coronavirus first identified in the 1960s, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These are Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta groups. More strains of the coronavirus were discovered later. Seven types of coronavirus strains can infect humans.

The strains that are dangerous for humans include MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) diseases, respectively.

The SARS-CoV-2 is another such coronavirus strain that is the cause of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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