Recently, Dubawa came across a viral message on WhatsApp, which claimed that the pH of coronavirus is between 5.5 and 8.5. It further referred to a study quoted, “journal of virology published in April 1991, Page 1961”. The message also listed several fruits with a pH range that suggests it can neutralise the activities of coronavirus in the body.
What is pH?
pH or Potential of Hydrogen is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale of 0-14; where seven represents as neutral and figures lower are acidic while higher values are alkaline.
Furthermore, in humans, the blood is the solution that regulates the acidity and alkalinity of the body, thereby maintaining a pH balance with normal blood having a pH scale of 7.40.
What is Coronavirus?
It is a large family group of viruses scientifically known as Coronaviridae causing illnesses ranging from cold to severe diseases. They are responsible for two human conditions – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Similarly, the latest disease caused by this group known as COVID-19 is the current ongoing pandemic.
Firstly, Dubawa initial checks revealed the author (source of the claim) misappropriated information. We found that the referenced journal “RESEARCH: JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, APRIL 1991, PAGE 1916”, titled “Alteration of the pH Dependence of Coronavirus-Induced Cell Fusion: Effect of Mutations in the Spike Glycoprotein”. As it turns out, the article published by the American Society of Microbiology and authored by one Thomas M. Gallagher had nothing to do with the novel coronavirus.
On the matter of the research article, the paper, in truth, focused on coronavirus, albeit a different type- Mouse Hepatitis Virus type 4 (MHV4). Still, it did not refer to and was certainly not about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 that caused the current pandemic. Further, while the study in its first sentence mentioned pH, it was alluding to the pH of the infected host cell and not the pH of coronavirus -MHV4.
Worse still, not only does the claim refer to a different type of coronavirus (MHV4 not COVID-19), but the statement above shows that one cannot measure pH in isolation. What do we mean by this? To ascertain the pH of a material, it has to be in a medium (a solution). And for the case of a virus, it needs a living host to survive to fulfil this measurement.
The list features acidic, not alkaline fruits
Furthermore, Dubawa’s investigation found that the list of fruits the author suggested will neutralise the acidity of COVID-19 was wrong! A publication by Clemson University and the United States Food and Drug Administration shows the accurate values we incorporated in the table below:
|Fruit||Claimed pH||Average pH with evidence|
|Mango||8.7||3.40 – 6.00|
|Tangerine||8.5||3.32 – 4.48|
Incidentally, this table shows that all fruits the author displayed as alkaline is, acidic, save for dandelion. This revelation further negates what the chain message propagates. Besides, garlic with the scientific name of Allium Sativum is botanically classified as a vegetable, not as a fruit.
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Meanwhile, there are no official values for Dandelion. However, some research does suggest that Taraxacum officinale (otherwise called Priest’s crown) thrives in a highly acidic to slightly alkaline soil, i.e. pH level 4.2 to 8.3. While some studies suggest Dandelion to be alkaline for its acid neutralising properties, its pH cannot be 22.7pH. This value- 22.7 greatly exceeds the pH max range of 14!
Coronavirus does not have its own pH
Further, Dubawa sought expert advice for added verification. David Olaleye, professor of virology at the University of Ibadan told Dubawa that generally, viruses do not have pH, and the same thing applies to coronavirus:
“The pH for each virus is the level of acidity or alkalinity of the medium in vitro — the survival outside the body of the host – as a proxy to look at what will happen inside the host but that does not mean when it gets into the body the pH does not change.”
Professor Oyeleye also warns against depending on such information to venture into the prevention of coronavirus as it can lead to some other health complications as two people cannot have the same pH level at the same moment:
“The stomach is acidic because of the presence of acid but the pH depends on what we drink and eat at a particular time and it is never static for one hour not to talk of 24 hours, days or weeks.”
In summary, our best bet is to continually follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This sentiment was also shared by David Olayele and Oyewale Tomori, the professors of virology who spoke to Dubawa and AfricaCheck.