A lawmaker belonging to India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party told constituents she drinks cow urine “every day” to prevent Chinese coronavirus infection, local outlets reported Monday.
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who represents Bhopal in the Indian Parliament and belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reportedly made the comments during a public event Sunday in which she donated oxygen concentrators to a local hospital. There, Pragya claimed that planting insufficient numbers of trees was responsible for the coronavirus pandemic and that the pandemic would end if every family planted ten trees.
Thakur’s remarks follow a difficult month for Indian officials, who recently found it necessary to warn citizens not to smear cow feces on themselves to prevent coronavirus infections, as this has no effect on the disease. Similarly, no scientific evidence supports the claim that Indian cow urine can prevent coronavirus infections.
India is currently facing arguably the single most severe domestic Chinese coronavirus situation in the world. Indian officials have documented over 25 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, more than any other country except the United States. These official statistics do not take into consideration the fact that experts believe rogue states like China, Russia, and Iran have greatly undercounted their coronavirus case and death counts, leaving clear discrepancies in their data. India has documented 278,719 coronavirus deaths as of Tuesday.
To prevent the coronavirus case count from rising, Thakur advised constituents to drink the urine of an Indian cow.
“If we drink gau mutra [urine] of a desi [Indian] cow, it cures us of the infections in our lungs. I am in a lot of pain but I drink gau mutra every day,” Thakur asserted. “Because of this, I don’t have to take any medicines for corona and neither am I infected with corona and with god’s blessings, it will remain so as I am taking the right kind of medicines (gau mutra).”
Thakur claimed cow urine consumption is a “life-saver” and went on to also advise locals to plant trees so as to generate more oxygen, which she speculated could ease the harm caused by the pandemic.
“We should plant trees like Neem, Banyan, Tulsi, Peepal. and other plants that give out oxygen 24 hours. Had we planted these trees, we wouldn’t have faced these problems today,” she asserted. “Every family should plant 10 trees in the name of their family members and nurture them and give them life.”
India’s NDTV noted that, despite her claims, Thakur was hospitalized with coronavirus in December. She did not clarify if she began her daily urine-drinking ritual before or after that infection. NDTV also noted that Thakur “calls herself a saint” and has claimed in the past that cow urine cures cancer.
Thakur is not the first to promote drinking cow urine as protection against Chinese coronavirus. In March 2020, members of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, a Hindu activist group, hosted a “cow urine party” in which they reportedly “staged fire rituals and drank [urine] from earthen cups” to protect themselves from the virus. Some participating in the event described cow urine as a “tried and tested” way to prevent the spread of disease.
While cow urine has no known scientific effect on coronavirus, public health experts universally recognize mass gatherings as a risk for the rapid spread of the respiratory pathogen. Large numbers of mass gatherings featuring thousands of people — most prominently BJP political rallies and the Hindu rite of bathing in the Ganges River — preceded the current outbreak throughout India.
The same month of the cow urine party by the All India Hindu Mahasabha, police arrested BJP political activist Narayan Chatterjee after a participant at a “cow urine consumption event” the activist hosted fell ill. BJP officials decried the arrest as a violation of Chatterjee’s right to free speech.
Cow urine has been a popular alternative medical product in India long before the coronavirus pandemic. As GlobalPost reported in 2015, companies throughout the country sell “facial cream, shampoo, soap, nasal drops, hair tonic, and various medicines” featuring cow urine as a key ingredient. BJP politicians have been at the forefront of promoting the alleged health benefits of cow urine, including outrageous claims that cow urine alone can cure deadly diseases like cancer.
“If you want to save yourself from cancer, there is a need to protect cows on a priority because cow urine is effective in curing cancer completely,” BJP lawmaker Shankarbhai N. Vegad said in 2015. “It can cure  percent. I can vouch for it. Nobody wants to hear this.”
The Indian government has been more forceful in urging citizens to abstain from using cow feces as a coronavirus cure.
“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine boosts immunity against Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus]. People should also understand that using excreta of cows is bound to increase the chance of some zoonotic or infectious disease spreading,” Indian Medical Association (IMA) chief Dr. JA Jayalal warned last week.