Don’t buy miracle cure claims coronavirus may spawn

As fears mount, consumers could fall for cons
Coronavirus image
The CDC produced this illustration of a coronavirus, so named because of the spikes that appear to be a crown.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WKBT) – Don’t fall for coronavirus cures spawned by fears of the potentially deadly disease — because they’re all cons, according to the the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau.

The CDC insists that there simply are no cures for the mysterious disease in an outbreak that began in December in China, where the death toll is approaching 3,000, and has spread to dozens of other countries, including the United States, where the CDC has confirmed 15 cases.

Increasing anxiety about the disease has generated petri dishes for misinformation touting preventive devices and cures, according to the BBB.

One of the initial scams disputes the CDC’s contentions that there are no cures yet and a vaccine could be more than an year away. Conspiratorial theorists are circulating emails claiming there is a cure, but the government is hiding it for security reasons.

Quacks also are peddling miracle cures on social media and websites, complete with convincing testimonials, the BBB claims.

Con artists also are impersonating the CDC and the World Health Organization in phishing emails that claim to have news about the disease and prompt readers to download malicious software. Another scam email claims to be a government program created to develop a coronavirus vaccine and tries to trick people into donating to a fake fundraising effort.

Although health officials and researchers are scrambling to find a cure, there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent the coronavirus infection, although treatments are in development.

Although the frenzy surrounding the outbreak may have left the impression among many that there is only one coronavirus, the CDC says there are seven, divided into four subgroups: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The confusion has prompted the CDC to label this coronavirus COVID 19, although most references still use the generic term.

Two other coronaviruses in recent years are the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which began an epidemic in China in 2002 and killed nearly 800 by the time it abated in 2004, and t Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which began in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has killed just over 2,500 people by the end of January, according to the CDC.

The CDC offers tips on how to spot health frauds:

  • Do your 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. Always double-check information you see online with official news sources.
  • Be wary of personal testimonials and “miracle” product claims. Testimonials are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
  • Suspect of claims touting cures for a wide range of diseases immediately. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases.
  • Don’t fall for claims of “all natural.” Just because something is natural does not mean it’s good for you. And “all natural” claims have varying degrees of truth.
  • Check with your doctor or other health care professional before trying any unproved or questionable products that make outrageous claims.