Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet is filled with coronavirus quacks who make all kinds of unsubstantiated and dangerous claims about useless treatments. Enter the FDA to give many of them a good, old-fashioned smackdown.
Right now, there is no official protocol for treating the disease, but China, which has the most cases, researchers reported the majority of patients received IV antibiotics to treat secondary infections (it does nothing to the coronavirus). Most patients have also been treated with antiviral oseltamivir (Tamiflu), which is FDA approved to treat influenza, as well as supplemental oxygen.
Of course, the coronavirus quacks, who wouldn’t know much about evidence-based medicine, are pushing expensive, but useless, treatments for COVID-19. And the FDA couldn’t take it anymore.
Coronavirus quacks hear from the FDA
The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to 7 companies for selling bogus coronavirus products. These are the first warning letters issued by the FDA for unapproved drugs and products that the coronavirus quacks claim to prevent or treat COVID-19.
According to the FDA, these products pose “significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.” The FDA stated that:
“The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health. We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable.”
“There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims. These warning letters are just the first step. We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”
Of course, people who take these products thinking that they can actually prevent or treat this serious disease may delay getting real evidence-based treatment for the disease, which can lead to serious consequences, including death.
The warning letters were sent to (and I will not link to them, because they shouldn’t get any business from anyone):
- Vital Silver
- Aromatherapy Ltd,
- Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics,
- Guru Nanda, LLC,
- Vivify Holistic Clinic
- Herbal Amy LLC
- The Jim Bakker Show (wait, this is still a thing?)
The products pushed by these coronavirus quacks are teas, essential oils, tinctures, and the old standby for scam artists everywhere, colloidal silver. The FDA claims that these coronavirus quacks are selling products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19.
As I have written previously, there are no vaccines that are approved to prevent COVID-19. And there are no drugs approved to prevent the disease. As with most pseudoscientific quacks that populate the internet, they have zero evidence that anything they claim is either effective or safe.
The FDA is also going after social media advertising and online marketplaces that make claims. They have the power to fine companies that do not abide by the FDA orders, so the agency is taking this very seriously.
Right now, there are no preventions (other than passive ones like social distancing and handwashing) that can prevent the spread of the disease. We are over a year (probably a lot more) from a coronavirus vaccine.
And there are no FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19. Anyone who is pushing either of those is just full of bovine fecal material.
There is nothing you can do to “boost your immune system.” Your immune system is an utterly complex set of interactions between various cells, organs, and biochemicals. There is no evidence that you can swallow a handful of supplements or down a blueberry-kale smoothie to boost it.
Only those with chronic conditions (like AIDS, diabetes, some cancers, and immunosuppression) or chronic malnutrition have weakened immune systems. In those cases, there are some scientific-based methods to “boost” their immune systems, but they are irrelevant to those of us who are healthy. Essentially, the immune system for most of us hums along quite well.
In fact, “boosting” the immune system is dangerous, even if we could put it into overdrive. A boosted immune system leads to serious conditions like autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and other conditions.
Avoid these coronavirus quacks. If any of them claim that they have the miracle prevention or cure, they almost certainly do not.
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