Indian doctors are warning about the use of cow dung as a cure for COVID-19 as India continues to experience near-record levels of virus infections and deaths.

The rubbing of cow dung on one’s body is believed to ward off COVID-19, according to local lore,. But Indian doctors say there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the practice is effective, but rather it can spread other diseases, Reuters reported.

India has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with over 22.9 million positive cases of the virus and near 250,000 COVID -19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some experts suggest that the actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher than what has been reported, Reuters said.

However, the idea behind the smearing of the cow dung and urine on the body in hopes that it will boost immunity against COVID-19, or help a person recover from the virus, is ineffective and potentially dangerous.

The practice stems from a Hinduism belief that the cow is a sacred symbol that means life and earth. Hindus have a long-held belief system that cow dung has therapeutic and antiseptic properties.

"We see ... even doctors come here. Their belief is that this therapy improves their immunity, and they can go and tend to patients with no fear," Gautam Manilal Borisa, an associate manager at a pharmaceuticals company told Reuters. He also told the news outlet that the practice helped him recover from COVID-19 last year.

But Dr. JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association, disagrees.

“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief," Jayalal told Reuters. "There are also health risks involved in smearing or consuming these products - other diseases can spread from the animal to humans.”

But with India struggling with high demand for hospital beds, oxygen, and PPE supplies, the U.S.’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had a warning for the country on Sunday as he appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”

Fauci said that the only way that Indian officials can gain control of the pandemic is to ramp up vaccine production and distribution by working with other countries, build a series of field hospitals, and issue a government shutdown to slow the spread.

He said: “You need to break the chain of transmission and one of the ways to do that is to shut down.”

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