Mar 10, 2020 - Health

Scammers are peddling fake coronavirus cures

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

The emerging coronavirus economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Companies that make products geared toward staying at home — think peanut butter, exercise bikes and telecommunication software — are the unexpected beneficiaries of the evolving coronavirus economy.

Why it matters: There are dour forecasts for the global economy as the coronavirus runs its course. But investors are placing bets on what consumers will need as the fast-spreading outbreak worsens.

The other coronavirus test we need

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Researchers are racing to develop tests that detect whether someone may have developed immunity to the coronavirus, which could help society return to normal faster.

Why it matters: These tests could help people know if they are able to go back to work, as well as aid researchers in tracking the scale and death rate of the disease — key data for current and future pandemic policies.

Go deeperArrowMar 28, 2020 - Health

America's grimmest month

Trump gives his Sunday press briefing in the Rose Garden. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump asked Americans to continue social distancing until April 30, officials warned that tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans could die — and that's the least depressing scenario.

Why it matters: April is going to be very hard. But public health officials are in agreement that hunkering down — in our own homes — and weathering one of the darkest months in American history is the only way to prevent millions of American deaths.

Go deeperArrowMar 30, 2020 - Health