Why is it so difficult to kill the novel coronavirus once it is inside of the body, especially since simple soap and sanitizer can kill it outside the body? A meme that went viral asks just that question. While medical officials do recommend soap and sanitizer to help ward off infection, there is no known vaccine or cure for the virus or the disease it causes.
There's a big difference between protecting oneself from the virus outside the body and curing it once it has infected the insides -- which, in this case, can prove deadly. The virus is believed to spread by human-to-human contact, hence the social-distancing policies and lockdowns. But just like in war, a cure gets tricky once the enemy is inside the perimeter: killing hostiles is a lot easier when you don't have to worry about collateral damage or hitting friendlies.
The post seems to joke about the seriousness of what the World Health Organization has deemed a pandemic. It surfaced in a post (archived here) on Facebook by Don Caines on April 10, 2020. It opened:
So...There's No Cure For A Virus...That Can Be Killed With Soap And Sanitizer
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
Certain posts of the meme quickly went viral, some with at least 13,000 shares as of April 14, as coronavirus deniers pasted Facebook -- trying to explain away a virus that has tallied nearly 2 million cases around the globe and a disease that has killed amost 126,000 worldwide, including more than 25,000 in the United States alone.
The problem, however, is there is no known vaccine or cure for the new coronavirus, as has been pointed out by Lead Stories on a number of occasions, and by other fact-checking sites like Reuters.
Soap and sanitizer are recommended as preventatives -- not a cure. Put simply, substances that will annihilate the virus outside of you will also obliterate healthy cells and tissue if you put them in your body. Things like fire or bleach. Or soap and sanitizer. You definitely should not put those in your body.
Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated this. According to the CDC:
• There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
• The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The WHO also published guidelines to help prevent infection or spreading of the coronavirus, which is spread through human-to-human contact, including coughing and other bodily actions.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
• Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer can possibly prevent people from contracting the virus. But it is not a cure for coronavirus.
Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or out in the community, find out how handwashing with soap and water can protect you and your family.
It's also worth noting that there's no cure for the common cold. Hand washing can stop that virus from spreading, too -- it just can't cure the cold once a person has it.