As death toll due to the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus soars in Indonesia, many of its citizens are desperately looking for ways to keep themselves safe from getting infected.
A viral video circulating on the internet shows Indonesians armed with trolleys scrambling over cans of Bear Brand Sterilized Milk in a grocery store. A report by Coconuts Jakarta says the panic buying happened last weekend after recent rumors claimed that the said sterilized cow’s milk could boost a person’s immune system to prevent Covid-19 infection.
Opportunistic resellers are, well, milking the high demand for the product. Reports said the price of the milk beverage has already spiked—from IDR9,000 (or about P30) to IDR50,000 (P172).
Meanwhile, according to CNBC Indonesia the chairman of the Covid-19 Task Force of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) Professor Zubairi Djoerban had already refuted the rumors that Bear Brand Sterilized Milk can kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. He stressed that it can’t cure or treat Covid.
He’s not stopping people from drinking the canned beverage, however, or even any powdered milk, says Djoerban, saying milk has its nutritional benefits. “But to get good nutrition, you have to eat [foods] containing vegetables, fruit, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so it’s not just milk,” he said.
A concerned US doctor, Dr. Faheem Younus, the chief of infectious diseases at the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, also took to Twitter to dispel claims that the canned milk can treat Covid. He also dispensed other coronavirus-related advice, which was much appreciated by some Indonesians including Alissa Wahid, daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.
Claims that one can fight Covid by drinking a glass of milk had started making the rounds on social media last year. The Bullvine’s post, which had over 1,400 shares on Facebook, claims that “lactoferrin, a protein that helps to fight off viruses” as well as vitamin C and zinc, “play very important roles in strengthening your immunity.”
According to the US Library of Medicine, there had been studies conducted on the antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties of lactoferrin. But “further experiments to verify its inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 as well as clinical trials to elucidate dosage and efficacy are necessary to confirm the potential of Lf for SAR-CoV-2 prevention and COVID-19 treatment.”
Similarly, a 2021 study conducted about vitamin C and zinc’s efficacy in fighting Covid reveals that “people receiving the supplements, whether individually or combined, had no improvement in symptoms or a faster recovery when compared with otherwise similar patients receiving neither supplement.”