Dietary Supplement Claims and Coronavirus Disease

Currently, there are no vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 is caused by the virus, SARS-CoV-2. However, some dietary supplement manufacturers claim to have a "cure" or can treat COVID-19. These are scams because this is a new (or novel) virus and researchers have yet to identify a safe medicine, supplement, or vaccine that can cure or treat this disease.

Between 2002 and 2003, there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), caused by SARS-CoV. No more cases of SARS-CoV have been reported worldwide. SARS-CoV is about 80% similar to SARS-CoV-2 [Zhou et al. 2020]. In 2014, researchers reviewed medicinal plants and supplements that had anti-viral properties [Lin et al. 2014]. It was found that extracts from 10 medicinal plants either inhibited SARS-CoV's attachment to cells or prevented its growth.

Only one medicinal plant, Houttuynia cordata (common names: chameleon plant and fish mint), was used in combination with western medicine to treat SARS patients [Li et al. 2006]. The study indicated that chameleon plant has the potential to treat coronavirus infections. In general, people widely use Echinacea and elderberry for infections. Research has shown that these herbs may stimulate the immune system. However, the benefits of chameleon plant, Echinacea, and elderberry against COVID-19 are unknown. Research can change that.

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

The best option for keeping yourself healthy and controlling the spread of COVID-19 is to (1) practice social distancing of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and (2) follow the preventative measures shown below:

stop the spread of COVID-19

Number of COVID-19 Cases for Select Countries/Regions | Updated: 02 April 2020

Confirmed Cases Deaths Case Fatality Rate
Worldwide 1011490 52863 5.23%
United States 242182 5850 2.42%
New York 92506 2373 2.57%
Illinois 7695 157 2.04%
Chicago 3427 43 1.25%
Missouri 1834 19 1.04%
Cole County 25 0 0%
Italy 115242 13915 12.07%
Spain 112065 10348 9.23%
Germany 84788 1107 1.31%
China 82432 3322 4.03%
India 2543 72 2.83%
Egypt 865 58 6.71%
Viet Nam 227 0 0%

For more information about the number of cases in your country or community, please visit the following sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, World Health Organization (WHO), and Worldometers.

Sellers Making False Health Claims

We have also compiled a list of sellers making false COVID-19 treatment claims. It appears that these sellers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to make a quick buck. The products from them, such as chlorine dioxide (a bleach solution marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS) and colloidal silver, should be avoided because they can harm your health.

List of fraudulent sellers:

Deaths and Overdoses Associated with COVID-19 Self-Treatment

After U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted the following on 21 March 2020, HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine [...], people have overdosed on chloroquine, a medication similar to hydroxychloroquine, including 1 death in Arizona, United States:

how to wash produce

Raw Fruit and Vegetable Safety and Coronavirus

According to the USDA, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted from fresh fruits and vegetables to humans. Nonetheless, it is recommended to follow good hygiene practices. To keep produce safe, follow these steps:

  1. Avoid bruised or damaged produce
  2. Before cleaning produce, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  3. Only use clean potable water to wash produce; do not use bleach, detergents, or soap because fruits and vegetables will absorb these chemicals and this can harm you
  4. Before peeling a fruit, wash it with clean water and then dry with a paper towel
  5. For produce with a thick skin, use a vegetable brush to help wash away bacteria and viruses
  6. For vegetables like broccoli or leafy greens, soak in clean water for 2 to 5 minutes and then rinse with clean water
  7. Remove the outermost leaves of cabbage and lettuce and then wash with clean water
  8. To remove additional bacteria and viruses, dry produce with a clean paper towel

Sources: Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The University of Maine, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services