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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Federal regulators are cracking down on scams advertising unproven coronavirus treatments, and those frauds are likely to continue.

The big picture: Disease outbreaks have long created fertile ground for fraudsters to prey on the public's fears with fake or unproven treatments. COVID-19 is no different.

Driving the news: The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters yesterday about seven fraudulent products.

  • Major retailers and some online marketplaces have already removed more than three dozen listings — for products including teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver — that falsely claim to help treat or prevent coronavirus infection.

Flashback: Scammers have run this con many times before.

  • Zika: Wristbands, patches and stickers falsely claimed they could propel the mosquito-borne virus.
  • Ebola: Before there was a vaccine, the FDA warned against online pitches that marketed snake venom, vitamin C, nanosilver and herbs as cures.
  • SARS: Promotions for air purifiers, cleaning supplies and even prevention kits were pulled off several websites in 2003.

Reality check: No drugs have been approved to treat this strain of the coronavirus.

  • Society is, at best, 12–18 months away from finding out the effectiveness of any kind of vaccine or antiviral medication, as several drugmakers like Gilead, Regeneron and Takeda run their drugs through clinical trials.

The bottom line: Listen to public health experts and doctors about how best to avoid the virus and, if necessary, how to treat it. Anybody trying to sell you a remedy over social media is most likely just trying to pick your pocket.

Go deeper: Beware the "science" behind some wellness industry's claims

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
54 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.