Misleading advertisements for products that are supposed to protect against the new covid-19 coronavirus, such as oral and injectable multivitamins, methylene blue and ozone therapy, have been circulating on social media and concerned medical entities. One became a police case.
Last Thursday (5), the owner of a pharmacy in the metropolitan region of Curitiba (PR) was sued by civil police on suspicion of promoting the sale of multivitamins under the promise of preventing against the coronavirus.
In the ad, the box with 90 capsules of the supplement was offered in a promotion, from R $ 90 for R $ 79.99. The establishment said the product was a complete three-month treatment against coronavirus.
In WhatsApp groups there is also a video of an alleged doctor recommending “immunomodulation with high injectable doses of vitamins D and C and amino acids” as a means of protection.
“You just have to call here at the clinic and schedule your immunoshot,” he says.
In the message, the man states that the SBI (Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases) advocates strengthening immunity as the only preventive strategy for coronavirus infection.
The entity issued a disapproval note denying the recommendation. In the statement, the SBI also says that there is no scientific evidence that the so-called “immunoshot” prevents infection.
“We still do not have any treatment or vaccine that has been proven to prevent coronavirus. They are taking advantage of this situation, of people’s good faith, to profit from it,” says infectious disease specialist Leonardo Weissmann, a SBI consultant.
According to him, the society also received several questions about the effectiveness of ozone therapy against the coronavirus, after publication of advertising by an aesthetic clinic. Again, there is no evidence about the effectiveness and safety of the treatment for preventing infection.
For the infectologist Esper Kallás, a professor at USP, the most serious thing is that much of this quackery has been practiced by doctors, which, to the unsuspecting, may seem more credible than the other fake news about coronavirus that circulate on social networks.
“It’s people who have CRM [registro no conselho médico]. The patient arrives at the office, sees diplomas hanging on the wall in the waiting room and falls into the siren’s corner. There is no way to discern that you are being deceived. “
According to him, people must always be suspicious of these seductive medical recommendations, which promise things without scientific basis.
“Usually, the guy will earn money with the procedure that, invariably, is not found in pharmacies or hospitals. He only has it in his office.”
For Kallás, these situations need to be reported to the medical councils so that appropriate measures can be taken.
This week, another video circulated with a doctor saying that the injection of methylene blue, an antiseptic solution, could help prevent the virus.
“It is absurd. Nothing is without risk. When you inject or swallow something, there will always be an associated risk,” he says.
These deceptions add up to even more bizarre ones that circulate on social networks around the world.
Even the use of cow urine and cocaine has already been suggested as a prevention of coronavirus. The subject was one of the themes of the WHO (World Health Organization) meeting in Geneva, which ended last Wednesday (12).
Through its Twitter account, WHO has repeatedly denied miraculous treatments, many claiming to be endorsed by the organization and national health ministries. Among them are recommendations for the consumption of garlic, sesame oil and vitamin C.
In the past three weeks, an alliance that brings together more than 90 fact verifiers from 39 countries under the coordination of the International Fact-Checking Network, has published more than 400 checks, most on false ways to prevent and / or cure coronavirus.
On January 28, for example, PolitiFact issued a warning that bleach does not cure coronavirus and that it can cause serious side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea and severe dehydration.
Fourteen days later, madness was still rampant on social media in the United States, including YouTube, propagated by influencers.
Nor is vitamin C able to prevent infection with the new coronavirus. On January 25, BoomLive, one of the fact checkers in India, warned that this false information was being shared on Facebook.
Four days later, the same lie arrived in Brazil, became popular in WhatsApp groups and was denied by Aos Fatos.
In Italy and Taiwan, news about products with “natural enzymes” for handwashing has gone viral, even without scientific evidence that they serve to protect against the virus.
In the list of fact checks, there are still fake news about cure, like the ones that say that Kenya and Romania have already developed vaccines.
There are some international groups initiating preparations for the clinical tests of substances that are candidates for vaccine and medicines to relieve the symptoms caused by the infection, but there is no product ready or approved by regulatory bodies.