Beware of Fake Products That "Protect" Against COVID-19
As of March 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had already issued warning letters about fraudulent products to seven companies that were selling products promising to treat, cure, or prevent the infection.
"The medical profession still does not know exactly how to influence the immune system, despite what supplement products may claim," says Julie Stefanski, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. And there is a danger with accidental overdoses. For example, adults who take vitamins such as Occuvite should not take additional zinc, which would put them at risk of a toxic dose.
There has not been time to study if any products may work specifically to enhance protection against the new virus, although multiple studies in China are ongoing. Unlike pharmaceutical medications, new supplements can come on the market in the U.S. without the manufacturer having to prove safety or efficacy. It is only after consumers or healthcare professionals complain that the FDA and FTC can act to take a product off of store shelves.
"Let your healthcare professional advise you on sorting reliable information from questionable information," is the recommendation from the FDA.