A surprising number of people in India want to make coronavirus vaccines at home, a Google Trends analysis report has revealed.
On Jan. 16, India kicked off its mass immunisation exercise with the aim of inoculating at least 300 million citizens on a priority basis, making it the world’s largest vaccination drive of its kind.
Now, Indians are scouring the web to find a homemade cure for COVID-19. “How to make a covid vaccine at home” was among Google’s top trending searches on Jan. 17 and 18.
This isn’t the first time Indians have tried to find out how to make a homemade COVID-19 cure. This trending search previously peaked in July 2020, as the novel coronavirus continued to spread across the country.
False and misleading claims that promised to cure COVID-19 surged in India since the beginning of the pandemic. A BBC analysis noted that fake news around COVID-19 unfairly targeted the Muslim community, and unscientific homemade remedies including honey, ginger, turmeric and even heat were peddled as cures for coronavirus through social media and WhatsApp forwards.
And it isn’t just in India. Last September, scientists around the world began testing out unproven versions of DIY vaccines on themselves and their friends. In fact, one scientist even began selling his homemade vaccine on Facebook.
Meanwhile, thousands of people in Sri Lanka gathered to drink a “miracle” liquid concoction made by a self-styled holy man using ingredients like nutmeg, coriander and other herbs. While this “cure” was backed by some government officials and media, at least two politicians in the country contracted COVID-19 despite drinking the solution.
Even as India approved two vaccines for emergency use, the lack of data around efficacy and safety protocols has faced criticism from healthcare experts. This has fuelled a crisis of trust in COVID-19 vaccines in India. So far, the Health Ministry has reported that 4,54,049 people have been vaccinated, with 580 reporting adverse reactions, while two people have reportedly died.