A video indicating that tap water can test positive for Covid-19 and that the disease can spread through water is misleading
By Abeen Shayiq
A YouTube video claims via its caption that “tap water tests positive”. The 2min19sec video shows a person putting the covid rapid test device under tap water which then displays 2 lines indicating a positive result. There is no narration in the video but a test while recording the video and the caption together claim how water can carry the virus.
To understand the mechanism of how these Covid test strips work, we consulted our fact check member Dr. Rohini Karandikar, science educator and member of the Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 team. She explained “the strip test (rapid antigen test) works on the basis of antigen-antibody interaction. The strips have antibodies that are tailored to bind to viral antigens. If a sample contains a particular virus, then the antibodies on the strip will bind to the viral antigens and the reaction will appear as a sharp colored band in 15-30 min”.
With regards to this particular video she mentioned that, “a color reaction occurred in less than a minute. Also, the color was more of a smear than a band. This could be due to a major fault in the strip. Such strips cannot be used reliably for rapid tests”.
Therefore the testing of tap water in the video was in itself faulty and if the covid test strip shows the results too soon or without the sharp coloured bands, then the strip may have some defect.
We also asked her whether the coronavirus could be a water borne disease or survive in water. She said, “it is now well established that COVID is a respiratory illness that is spread mainly through droplets and in some cases, through aerosols containing the novel coronavirus. There have been no reports of COVID transmission through tap water”.
The official health information sources have also made this aspect clear. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus has clearly indicated that the virus does nor spread through water. It says that, “Currently, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people by drinking treated water. COVID-19 is spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. You can continue to use and drink water from your tap as usual”.
The World Health Organisation has also clearly stated that water cannot transmit COVID-19. WHO’s myth busting podcasts explains how water is not transmitting Covid-19.
Currently, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people by drinking treated water and it has not been detected in treated drinking water. COVID-19 is spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person.