Alcohol May Raise Risk Of Coronavirus, Weakens Body’s Immune System: WHO

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Liquor stores are considered essential businesses in the U.S. during COVID-19. WHO says governments should restrict access to alcohol during lockdowns. Photo: Unsplash

Governments should consider restricting access to alcohol during pandemic lockdowns, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

That advice is not likely to go over well in the U.S., where liquor stores have been designated an essential business as states go into lockdown, delivering a win to the beer, wine and spirits lobby.

Drinking alcohol can compromise peoples’ immune systems and make them more vulnerable to adverse health effects of COVID-19, the WHO said in a press release.

One of the many myths circulating about COVID-19 is that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill it.

“It does not,” the WHO said. “Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death.”

Ethyl alcohol aka drinking alcohol is what you drink when you drink alcoholic beverages. But consuming ethanol alone can cause coma and death, according to MSDSonline. The most common blend of ethanol is 85 percent denatured ethanol fuel and 15 percent gasoline.

Worldwide, 2,214,330 million people have tested positive for coronavirus, and 148,890 have died. The U.S. accounts for more than 30 percent of cases — 680,541 — and more than 23 percent of deaths — 34,723.

“Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus,” the WHO reported.

In March, WHO said drinking alcohol was an “unhelpful coping strategy” for people locked down at home during the coronavirus crisis and warned that boozing “can make things worse.”

Consumers appeared to be ignoring the advice. U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages skyrocketed at the end of March when many stay-at-home orders went into effect, Marketwatch reported.

Liquor stores in the U.S. have been designated essential businesses that can stay open. Online alcohol sales have risen 243 percent, according to Nielsen.

By Roslyn Anderson | April 3, 2020 at 7:42 PM CDT – Updated April 3 at 8:25 PM
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Governor Tate Reeves listed a number of businesses as essential to remain open during the Shelter-in-Place order.

So, why are liquor stores still open and considered essential businesses?

Because they can impact the health of citizens if they close, according to medical experts, WLOX reported. Without liquor stores, addicts could suffer alcohol withdrawal including sleeplessness, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, loss of consciousness or even death.

“Alcohol’s the most serious that you can be detoxed off of,” said Trost Friedler, executive director of Harbor House Chemical Dependency Services in Jackson, Mississippi. “It causes the most complications and is the most life-threatening of anything we detox our patients off of.”

Emergency rooms or medical clinics could be inundated with alcohol addicts if liquor stores were not open.

States delivered a major win to the beer, wine and spirits lobby during the coronavirus pandemic by temporarily relaxing laws on alcohol purchases, according to The Hill.

The new rules provide relief for restaurants and small businesses to keep alcoholic products available to customers.

“But the developments mark a sudden shift in state alcohol laws, which traditionally have been resistant to change. In recent weeks, the alcohol industry has seen a decades-long wish list on easing sales restrictions fulfilled,” Alex Gangitano wrote for The Hill.