Does a spray offer protection against the new coronavirus? The claims are unproven, and here is some context: The Genesis Church 2 touts its products as a treatment for a variety of ailments and diseases, but the ingredients are actually industrial bleach. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has warned the public against consuming the toxic treatment.
The claim surfaced in a tweet (archived here) published by @chiefpolice2 on January 24, 2020. It opened:
China expanded its lockdown against the deadly new virus to an unprecedented 36 million people. New followers protect yourself with the 20-20-20 spray. Watch this video It will kill the deadly virus.
Users on social media saw this:
China expanded its lockdown against the deadly new virus to an unprecedented 36 million people. New followers protect yourself with the 20-20-20 spray. Watch this video It will kill the deadly virus. https://t.co/cWfMQZHoY5-- chiefpolice (@chiefpolice2) January 25, 2020
The tweet from a user who identifies himself as a retired police chief in Las Vegas, Nevada, mentioned concerns over the coronavirus, which has killed 42 people in China. The user then urged his followers to "protect yourself" with a spray, which is known as "MMS," or Miracle Mineral Solution. He linked to a video that promotes the controversial mixture.
According to The Guardian, the ingredients for MMS include chlorine dioxide, a toxic industrial-strength bleach used on textiles. It is banned around the world for use as a medical treatment. Ben Mizer, a federal prosecutor, told ABC News:
They might as well be selling Clorox."
On August 12, 2019, the FDA issued a warning to consumers about what it called "dangerous and potentially life threatening side effects of Miracle Mineral Solution." The statement went on to say:
Miracle Mineral Solution has not been approved by the FDA for any use, but these products continue to be promoted on social media as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions. However, the solution, when mixed, develops into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.
The website for Genesis Church 2, which says it is not a "religous" [sic] organization, hawks the sprays, which it calls "sacramental cleansing water." The site features a video endorsement from Dr. John Humiston, an American doctor who at the time was practicing medicine in Tijuana, Mexico. According to a website that tracks health-related legal matters, in 2010, he moved to San Diego, California, and began working at a clinic offering "alternative therapies." In 2018, the California Medical Board reprimanded him and accused him of negligence with two patients.
Over the years, ABC News has been investigating the group and said the FDA had documented at least 20 cases of MMS-related poisonings as of last year.
While the claims about whether MMS can cure anything remain unproven, the website for the group includes this sentence:
Our Sacramental Cleansing Water cures nothing.
Even so, one person who is a believer is actress Lindsay Wagner, who is most recognized for her role as Jaime Sommers from the 1970s series "The Bionic Woman." In 2016, she told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that she believed MMS worked for her:
Wagner said that she was not recommending MMS for anyone else, just that it seemed to help her condition. The treatment of MMS remains controversial, however. There is no proof that it actually works, or that it can help prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.