There are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or cure COVID-19 infection

Photo courtesy Better Business Bureau

By Staff Reports

As the coronavirus spreads throughout North America the Better Business Bureau is warning the public of fake cures, phony prevention measures, and other coronavirus cons.

How the scam works:

You are worried about coronavirus and hear about preventions or a “cure” on social media, in an email, or a website. The message or website contains a lot of information about this amazing product, including convincing testimonials or a conspiracy theory backstory. For example, one scam claims the government has discovered a vaccine but is keeping it secret for “security reasons.” You figure it can’t hurt to give the medicine a try, so you get out your credit card.

Don’t do it. Currently, there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent coronavirus infection, although treatments are in development, according to the Better Business Bureau. No approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for coronavirus can be purchased online or in stores.

Peddling quack medicines isn’t the only way scammers are trying to cash in on coronavirus fears. Con artists are impersonating the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in phishing emails. These messages claim to have news about the disease and prompt readers to download malicious software. Another scam email tries to con people into donating to a fake fundraising effort, claiming to be a government program to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

How to spot a coronavirus con:

  • Don’t panic. Do research. Be skeptical of alarmist and conspiracy theory claims and don’t rush into buying anything that seems too good — or crazy — to be true. Double check information you see online with official news sources.

  • Be wary of personal testimonials and “miracle” product claims. Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases. Also, testimonials are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.

  • It’s “all natural.” Just because it’s natural does not mean it’s good for you. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe.

  • Check with your doctor. If you’re tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with a health care professional first.

Robert Airoldi