The federal government hasn’t approved any products for preventing, treating, or curing the Wuhan coronavirus.
The virus, which started in China last year, causes a disease called COVID-19 that can kill some patients, primarily those who are older or have underlying health conditions.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn stated in a warning on March 17: “Presently there are no FDA-approved products to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. However, bad actors are hawking products online and in stores that claim to do just that. Be wary of these scams and talk to your doctor before using any such product.”
People who suspect fraud can report their suspicions to the agency.
The number of COVID-19 cases have been rising quickly in the United States in recent days, topping 5,700 on March 17. Ninety-seven people have died from the disease, including 48 in Washington state, 12 in New York, and 11 in California.
Because of the spread of the virus, people understandably want to find the best ways to protect themselves and their loved ones, Hahn wrote in an op-ed. Unscrupulous people are trying to take advantage of the concerns to market products online and in stores that allegedly prevent, treat, or cure the illness.
“Consumers should be wary of anyone making these claims and instead talk with a licensed health care professional before taking or using any such product,” Hahn wrote.
“Taking matters into your own hands by purchasing and using unproven products without consulting your doctor puts you and others at risk for serious health consequences.”
The products range from herbal products and ayurvedic medicines to protective masks and hand sanitizers.
The FDA plans to take action against bogus products, but some might evade notice, Hahn said.
COVID-19 has no known vaccine or proven treatment, though some existing drugs have shown promise in limited health care settings.
Multiple trials analyzing drugs or drug candidates are underway or slated to start soon in the United States. One is looking at Kevzara, typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; another is seeing if remdesivir can prove effective.
The treatments could be ready in months, executives told President Donald Trump on March 2.
Vaccines are further away because of the rigorous testing required. The first patients in a coronavirus vaccine trial received doses on March 16.
The virus causes symptoms similar to the flu, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. People feeling ill are asked to stay home and contact their doctor or health care provider.
Experts recommend preventative techniques, including avoiding crowds, staying away from sick people, frequently washing hands with soap and water, and regularly cleaning objects and surfaces.
As the virus has spread in the United States, many states have announced measures to try to stem further spread. Those include shutting down schools, closing bars, and banning gatherings of a certain number of people.