Claim: A message recently making the rounds across social media advises readers to avoid consuming paracetamol tablets with P-500 written on it. The message states that the tablets contain the deadly Machupo virus, which gets transmitted to the person consuming the tablet.
There is no known laboratory experiment to validate this claim. The viral claim is, therefore, false.
The viral message shared on social media reads: “URGENT WARNING! Be careful not to take the paracetamol that comes written P-500. It is a new, very white and shiny paracetamol, doctors’ advice that it contains “Machupo” virus, considered one of the most dangerous viruses in the world, with a high mortality rate. Please share this message with all people in your contact list as well as family, and save a life or lives… I’ve done my part; now it’s your turn … remember that God helps those who help other & themselves! Forward as received.”
As per the viral message, the claim is that Paracetamol that has P-500 written on it contains the deadly Machupo virus.
This researcher searched Google using appropriate keywords (Paracetamol contains the deadly Machupo virus) and found many posts that claimed that Paracetamol that has P-500 written on it contains the deadly Machupo virus.
We searched for the Machupo virus and found a report that says: “Machupo (also known as ‘Bolivian hemorrhagic virus’ or ‘black typhus’) is endemic in north and east Bolivia and is generally spread through air or food. It is stated that Machupo Virus is spread through aerosolized, food-borne, or direct contact of virus particles. These particles result from the saliva, urine, or feces of Calomys callosus, the field mouse reservoir of the virus.
Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that Paracetamol is contaminated with Machupo virus.
The report by Indonesia’s Food and Drug Administration reads: ”Prior to the spread of social media rumors, the agency never received credible reports that support the claim that the Machupo virus has been found in Paracetamol drug products or other drug products. Machupo virus itself is known as a type of virus whose spread can occur through air, food, or direct contact. Machupo virus can be sourced from the saliva, urine, or feces of infected rodents and become a carrier of the virus. Head POM, Penny K. Lukito said that POM never finds things like that rumored, including Machupo virus content in the drug product.”
We found another report dated February 8, 2017, in which Malaysian health ministry officials debunked the rumors as well, with the statement that the Machupo cannot live in dry environments such as in paracetamol tablets.
A former chairman of the Oyo State branch of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharmacist Abiodun Ajibade commented that the claim is unprovable, since it has not been sufficiently subjected to laboratory analyses. ‘This cannot be ascertained except through a proper laboratory analysis to determine the contaminant. However, virus[es] are not able to survive on their own except through a living cell. I wonder how this would be a source of infection,’ he stated.
The claim that Paracetamol P-500 tablets contain a deadly virus named ‘Machupo’ is false. Paracetamol tablets do not contain Machupo virus.
The researcher produced this fact-check per Splash FM 105.5, Ibadan with the Dubawa 2021 fellowship partnership, to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.