2020-02-15 05:09:57  + video 

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 1,300 people in China as of Feb. 14, rumors about possible cures for the disease have run rampant online. So when two prestigious Chinese medical institutes reported that the traditional remedy Shuanghuanglian could “inhibit” the coronavirus, it triggered a buying frenzy. The product sold out on e-commerce platforms within minutes, and even versions of the medicine designed for use on animals became scarce.

But it wasn’t long before experts and netizens started questioning the report’s claims. The next day, the institutes and state media outlets that had touted the remedy’s effectiveness issued clarifications, making it clear that Shuanghuanglian couldn’t cure COVID-19.

In this video, Sixth Tone explores how “Shuanghuanglian-gate” came about, and how the story gathered so much momentum.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the traditional Chinese remedy Shuanghuanglian suddenly saw a huge spike in sales and became the focus of a media storm. What happened? Sixth Tone breaks it down here. By Zhu Yuqing, Fu Xiaofan, Tang Xiaolan, and Daniel Holmes

Editor: Dominic Morgan.

(Header image: Fu Xiaofan/Sixth Tone)