Any COVID-19 'Cure' Is a Scam


Illustration for article titled Any COVID-19 Cure Is a Scam
Photo: Dina Belenko (Shutterstock)

This is your periodic reminder that there is still no known cure, nor specific pharmaceutical preventative or treatment, for COVID-19. So if anybody is selling one, it’s a scam.

Yes, there are a few drugs that show promise. For people who are severely ill with COVID-19, so bad off that their body is attacking itself, the corticosteroid dexamethasone seems to improve those patients’ chances of survival. It doesn’t fight the virus, it just reduces the body’s own inflammatory response. So it doesn’t work to prevent illness and it wouldn’t help people who only have a mild case. And that’s our best drug so far! Remdesivir might help a little, but it’s no miracle cure either. Hydroxychloroquine has a lot of buzz behind it, but its performance in trials has been disappointing. You can look up the progress of current drug (and vaccine) candidates with this tracker.

But despite those very limited results, there are plenty of supplements and even harmful concoctions being sold as if they do something for COVID-19. The FDA has sent 86 warning letters, as of the time of writing, to companies illegally claiming they can treat, prevent, or cure the coronavirus.

The products include colloidal silver, which doesn’t cure anything and can be harmful; CBD products, frequently marketed as cure-alls with little to no evidence that they do anything; homeopathic “drugs,” which exploit a bizarre magical-thinking loophole in FDA regulations (they do not and literally cannot work), and a variety of other products like essential oils, herbal treatments, and dietary supplements. There is zero evidence that any of these will do anything for COVID-19.

And it gets worse. One of the products on the FDA’s shitlist markets itself as an actual vaccine against COVID-19. (Again, check the tracker—there are no vaccines for this coronavirus that are anywhere near large-scale trials, much less consumer availability.)

Another dangerous fake cure is the substance known as “miracle mineral solution” (which is basically bleach). It’s been marketed as a cure-all, but of course drinking bleach cures nothing. Last week, the FBI raided a “church” that was allegedly a front for a business manufacturing and selling MMS as a COVID-19 cure.

COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and there is currently no vaccine, preventative, treatment, or cure for that virus or the infection it causes. If you think you have COVID-19, you should contact your doctor (by phone or virtual visit), isolate yourself to avoid infecting others, and take care of yourself as you would for any respiratory infection.