The Meghalaya government on Friday reduced VAT on alcohol from 40% to 37.5%. Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: There’s some bad news for tipplers. In no way will consumption of alcohol protect you from COVID-19 or prevent you from being infected by it, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated.

Publishing a statement on April 14, the same day US President Donald Trump announced that he plans to cut funding for the organisation, the WHO’s regional office for Europe said: “At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence.”

WHO published some general facts one should know about the consumption of alcohol and health:

* Alcohol has effects, both short-term and long-term, on almost every single organ of your body. Overall, the evidence suggests that there is no “safe limit” – in fact, the risk of damage to your health increases with each drink of alcohol consumed.

* Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases.

* Alcohol, even in very small quantities, is known to cause certain types of cancer.

* Alcohol alters your thoughts, judgement, decision-making and behaviour.

* Alcohol, even in small amounts, is a risk to the unborn child at any time during pregnancy.

* Alcohol increases the risk, frequency and severity of perpetration of interpersonal violence such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, youth violence, elder abuse, and violence against children.

* Alcohol increases the risk of death and injury from road traffic injuries, drowning and falls.

* Heavy use of alcohol increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.

WHO has also shared some general myths about alcohol and COVID-19:

MYTH: Consuming alcohol destroys the virus that causes COVID-19.
FACT: Consuming alcohol will not destroy the virus, and its consumption is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus. Alcohol (at a concentration of at least 60% by volume) works as a disinfectant on your skin, but it has no such effect within your system when ingested.

MYTH: Drinking strong alcohol kills the virus in the inhaled air.
FACT: Consumption of alcohol will not kill the virus in the inhaled air; it will not disinfect your mouth and throat; and it will not give you any kind of protection against COVID-19.

MYTH: Alcohol (beer, wine, distilled spirits or herbal alcohol) stimulates immunity and resistance to the virus.
FACT: Alcohol has a deleterious effect on your immune system and will not stimulate immunity and virus resistance.

For the full factsheet, you can visit here.



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