A 30-year-old US man has died from coronavirus after attending a “COVID party” to test whether the virus is a hoax.
The man attended the party with an infected person and later died in Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jane Appleby told the New York Times.
“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not,” the man told his nurse prior to dying, Dr Appleby said.
“COVID parties” are held to test whether coronavirus exists or to intentionally expose people to it, in an attempt to gain immunity.
The gatherings are “dangerous, irresponsible and potentially deadly,” emergency physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, Dr Robert Glatter, told the Times.
“Attending such a party may be a path to an early demise, if not chronic and unrelenting fatigue, chest pain, difficulty breathing and daily fevers, if you do survive,” he said.
Prior to a chickenpox vaccine, similar parties were held to infect children with the disease in an effort to build up their immunity.
Dr Glatter said coronavirus does not behave in the same way as chickenpox, and parties for either virus should not be held.
This comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US surpassed three million last week, with over 258,000 cases and more than 3200 deaths recorded in Texas alone.
The virus has killed more than 130,000 people in the US and more than half a million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are believed to be higher.