Since the Coronavirus outbreak hit the world in December 2019, conspiracy theories, fake news and claims about the origin of the virus have been emerging on social media platforms every now and then. Treatment for COVID-19 is one of those topics that many scammers like to explore to fulfil their own needs.
In terms of the cure, there are some advertisements which claim that some companies can provide immune-boosting IV drips which could help Coronavirus patients.
Special IV drips for COVID-19 patients
It should be mentioned that there are three companies, identified by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority that claimed to provide such special IV drips to prevent or treat the novel Coronavirus. These claims are baseless as there is no such solution which has the potential to cure the deadly COVID-19. ASA has banned the advertisements and marketing claims made by the Private Harley Street Clinic, REVIV and Cosmetic Medical Advice UK after conducting investigations.
Tonic solutions by companies to help COVID-19 patients
As per Private Harley Street Clinic's website, the company provides Immunobooster IV infusion, which costs £350 and contains zinc and common vitamins including C. This solution can prevent infections from viruses. The website page also claims that "Maintaining and boosting your immune system is vital as this is your protection against this virus and other pathogens."
In another case, two Instagram posts featured an image of Dr Rita Rakus of Cosmetic Medical Advice UK, tricking people to have her "Super immune system booster drip at the clinic". This solution, which includes vitamin B and C marketed as a "good way to boost your immune system and protect yourself from viral infections".
In terms of another healthcare centre called REVIV, a blog post shared by its in-house doctor, Michael Barnish, on the company's website claims that REVIV's Megaboost IV Therapy as contains a high dose of vitamin C. The post also added that "we are also witnessing clinical trials in hospitals treating coronavirus using high intravenous doses of the powerful antioxidant, vitamin C, with some initial positive results." However, the company removed that post after being contacted by ASA, said The Guardian.
Later, a spokesperson from REVIV said that as a medical professional Dr Barnish's intention was not to mislead or state false claims that might put someone's health at risk. The spokesperson said, "Because of the preventive health expertise he only wanted to suggest ideas that would help boost a person's immune system during this time."
ASA investigation on false claims
The officials at ASA started their investigation after receiving several complaints from the public, who told the authority that these ads were medicinal claims for products which are not licensed as a medicine by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and that is a breach of the UK advertising code.
As per ASA, the MHRA said that any mention of Coronavirus or COVID-19 in the promotion of an IV drip product would bring the product "under medicines regulations, as would any claim that implied treatment of, or protection from, the virus."
"We considered that consumers would interpret the claims to mean that an IV drip ... could help to prevent people from catching coronavirus/COVID-19."