Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Putin ordering nuclear deterrent forces to be placed on “special” alert has scared the bejesus out of many in the western world who are now panic searching where to buy potassium iodide in case of nuclear war.
Potassium iodide can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, therefore protecting the gland from radiation injury during a nuclear incident.
After Putin called for his nuclear forces to be combat-ready last week, U.S. Google search trends of “iodide pills” surged to the highest level since 2011, when the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded.
Like the U.S. and NATO, Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads and maintains a nuclear deterrent attack force. As Russian incursions show no signs of slowing down, Putin announced Saturday that he would declare war on any country that imposes a no-fly zone on Ukraine.
On Thursday night, there were reports Russia shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and damaged a reactor, but those claims turned out to be false. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed no reactors at the Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Power Plant in Energodar, southwestern Ukraine, were damaged except for an education and training building. Still, the news sparked concern about Moscow’s warfare which raised international alarm.
There are already indications people are panic hoarding in Central Europe. Brussels Times reported 30,000 residents flocked to pharmacies for free potassium iodide pills post-invasion. Pharmacies in Bulgaria are already out of stock.
“In the past six days, Bulgarian pharmacies have sold as much [iodine] as they sell for a year,” said Nikolay Kostov, chair of the Pharmacies Union, according to Reuters.
Administering the tablets should occur within hours of radiation exposure and can help protect the thyroid gland for approximately 48 hours.