The "second wave" of coronavirus is viciously mutating and rapidly spreading, causing alarming counts of fatalities in some of those countries that had graphed a decline in the number of infected patients in the recent months.

As the disease is spreading so is the misinformation about the deadly virus.

India is one of the most populated and worst-hit countries in the world, the panic and the pandemic are huge. Many local media in the country recently quoted a survey by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). As per the reports, the survey claimed that smokers & vegetarians are less vulnerable to Covid-19.

The survey suggested that smoking may be protective because the excess mucus accumulation in the lungs of a smoker may act as the first line of defense against the virus. It also indicated that eating fiber-rich food may have a role to play in providing a higher immunity to vegetarians.

The story instantly went viral on social media platforms. However, the council denied making any press release claiming that smokers and vegetarians are less prone to the disease.

"It is hereby brought to attention CSIR has NOT ISSUED a Press Note titled ‘CSIR Study Reveals Smokers and Vegetarians are Less Vulnerable to Covid-19 Infection’," the council said in a release.

"It has been proposed that a fiber-rich diet may play an important role in COVID-19 through anti-inflammatory properties by modification of gut microbiota," the council quoted the study. "The negative association with smoking has been reported elsewhere, but not shown to be causal."

The council clarified in the release that "in studies such as these, associations with any of the parameters should not be considered causal until proven experimentally."

"Further exploration is necessary before reaching any conclusions, especially since seropositivity is an imperfect marker of infection-risk and may equally well be explained by altered antibody response and dynamics," the council added.

The central government had been repeatedly urging media platforms to fact-check their releases as unnecessary panic is causing more harm than good.

According to reports from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, the country has recorded more than 2882204 active cases as of Monday.

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A woman smokes a cigarette. Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

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