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I-TEAM: Companies push misleading claims of coronavirus-curing supplements

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 6:04 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There is no magic pill to prevent or cure COVID-19, despite some dangerous advertising claims uncovered by the I-Team.

Sales of dietary supplements have skyrocketed during the pandemic and so has concern from regulators and health care professionals.

We have learned a lot since March of 2020 about COVID-19, but a few things haven’t changed. Like how a strong immune system is your best chance against any virus.

And even in a global pandemic, someone will try to make a quick buck off your fears.

Immune Support. Immunity Boost. Immunity Shot. All of these are products with promises to strengthen the immune system.

The I-Team found Pharma Origins, a company out of Atlanta, posted a video titled “This Could Save Your Life” on YouTube a month after the virus hit Georgia.

“COVID-19 is a very real thing a very scary thing,” the video recording had stated. “He laid out a possible way to treat and event prevent Coronavirus and COVID-19.”

The Food and Drug Administration found it too. And sent the company a warning letter about the products a month later, writing their marketing “misleadingly represented (the products) as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19”.

“Now you know about this. I don’t think you will go another day without the level of protection that immune shots can provide,” the video had stated.

The video has now been removed by the uploader. However, it was statements like these that prompted the US Attorney Office to charge the owner and parent company of Pharm Origins a few months later.

The reasoning: for “selling a misbranded drug called Immune Shot that they falsely claimed would lower consumer’s risk of contracting COVID-19 by nearly 50 percent.”

Last month, the Southern District Court of Georgia issued a permanent injunction against the parent company that manufactured Immune Shot.

The I-Team found the FDA has sent similar violation letters to 145 companies for making misleading claims since March of last year.

The Administration is so concerned that it produced a PSA, warning consumers of the dangers of fraudulent coronavirus treatments.

It should not be a surprise as more companies are wanting in on the pandemic profit.

The I-Team found sales of Vitamin D alone jumped nearly 35 percent last year after a study showed many COVID patients are deficient in the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamins are a powerful weapon against the virus, but Dr, Babak Baban says too much of a good thing can be a bad thing when it comes to the immune system. He’s an immunologist and associate vice president for research at Augusta University.

“Immune system is very powerful,” Dr. Baban said. “Supplements as much as there are deficiencies can be hurtful in harming the body.”

The I-Team found Studies show too much Vitamin C can cause diarrhea and nausea. Too much zinc- gastrointestinal problems can interfere with antibiotics. Vitamin E can lead to bleeding in the brain. And overdoes of Vitamin K can cause blood clots.

“I try to get it from the natural source the fruit vegetables,” Dr. Baban said.

Imagine our immune system as a grocery cart full of everything we need to make it strong.

In it, we need a healthy diet of lean meats, fresh vegetables, and fruit which supplies us with the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals for a strong immune system.

Add sleep into our cart, too. Studies show a lack of sleep makes us sick.

And throw stress out. It decreases the body’s white blood cells- which opens us up to infection.

“You have to have a basket of everything in order for a healthy immune system you need a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Baban said.

A healthy lifestyle, which no single supplement can replace.

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