Amazon's bottom line has remained extremely healthy during the pandemic—but some of those profits might be coming from companies making dubious claims about their products' ability to fight viruses. NPR reports that searches for "coronavirus supplement" or "COVID supplement" return many pages of results from third-party sellers at Amazon, with the products including numerous kinds of herbal supplements and "immunity mushrooms." NPR notes that after it and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a public health watchdog, notified Amazon in June about products sold on its marketplace that do not explicitly claim to treat COVID but do make unsubstantiated claims about antiviral properties, it took weeks for the company to remove them from sale. Many others NPR subsequently identified remain available.
CSPI president Dr. Peter Lurie says the products are not only a "waste of money," they may harm consumers "if they decide to opt for a supplement in favor of the things we know that actually help," including social distancing. "The underlying problem is how under-regulated these products are in the first place," says Lurie, a former FDA associated commissioner. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who fought for consumer protection during his 20 years as Connecticut's attorney general, is pushing for federal agencies to crack down on coronavirus scams, including supplements sold as virus protection. "There’s a whole cottage industry of scams based on COVID-19," the Democrat says, per the Connecticut Mirror. (More Amazon.com stories.)