Federal health officials warn that some unscrupulous groups are selling fraudulent coronavirus test kits, claiming the products can diagnose or cure COVID-19.
The FDA issued a fraudulent warning about the purported COVID-19 test kits on March 24, after identifying several firms marketing and selling products with claims of being able to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure the coronavirus.
To date, there is no cure or home test kit for the COVID-19 disease. Any vaccine is likely months away, and the only test kits are those used at healthcare facilities and testing centers, and have been deployed with the close supervision and assistance of the FDA.
The FDA sent out seven warning letters to manufacturers found selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims, such as being effective against the coronavirus. The products were available for online purchase and included a variety of dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products claiming to be tests, drugs, medical devices, or vaccines effective against COVID-19.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, many individuals may be tempted to purchase any available test kit or product that makes claims of preventing or curing the disease, however officials warn this could result in serious adverse health consequences or death.
In the warning letters, the FDA stated these fraudulent test kits have not been medically proven to be accurate and able to detect the virus, and further stated it could delay the diagnosis and necessary medical treatment required to save an individual’s life. The use of a fraudulent and non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kit is also likely to also result in the further spread of the disease.
The agency announced it is working with retailers to remove dozens of misleading products from store shelves and online. The agency will continue to monitor social media and online marketplaces promoting and selling fraudulent COVID-19 products.
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, began to emerge in December 2019, in the Wuhan province of China. Since then it has spread to more than 170 countries and is now considered a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that, as of March 26, there were 68,440 confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 994 deaths. Many areas have shut down schools, bars, and any venues where large numbers of people gather and life in the U.S. and a number of other countries, for all intents and purposes, is on hold.
The FDA and the CDC, along with drug manufacturers, are continuing to work on expanding available healthcare facility COVID-19 test kits, while closely monitoring the spread of cases across the nation.
Consumers are being asked to be remain suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases and that personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence. Currently there is not a “quick fix” for diseases, especially COVID-19, and if you have coronavirus symptoms, you should follow the CDC’s guidelines and speak to your medical provider right away.