Commentary

Wellness Influencer Or Snake Oil Peddler? Beware of unproven quick-fixes

There’s so much upheaval in our personal and business lives now so it’s only natural that we’re on the lookout for the fastest possible solution.

We’d encourage each of you to be particularly vigilant regarding unproven quick fixes, often promoted by social media influencers. The influencer is exceptionally skilled at avoiding language that could be interpreted as “medical treatment.”

The rules regarding the regulatory environment and affiliate disclosures are vague, providing an opportunity to take advantage of the unsuspecting. Every one of us knows the saying, “if it sounds too good to be true ..."

For an entertaining and enlightening read into the world of fake health news promoted by social media influencers, check out this recent piece in Wired.

Fortunately in the USA we have multiple highly reputable biotech and pharma companies working on diagnostics and treatments; and we have world-class academic medical centers at the forefront of properly validated tools.

We are often asked about state of the art testing. Here are some pointers:

If you or a family member might show signs/symptoms of a current infection, have a look at the CDC’s Symptom Checker. If the checker indicates a possible infection, you’ll need to discuss this immediately with your primary care doctor who will then direct testing and treatment.

Testing for a current infection is done through a nasal swab, turnaround time is 24 hours or less. Results go to your primary care doctor.

Antibody testing is starting limited trials now. Antibody testing is done to see if you’ve already had the coronavirus in your system and may be a way to determine immunity status. It often takes 3-4 weeks after your system has the coronavirus before antibody tests will be positive.

UCSF and Stanford as well as many other academic medical centers nationwide are now starting antibody testing for front line healthcare workers (ICU and Emergency Department) and first-responders. They expect testing for the general public "soon."

As of today, only four companies have received FDA approval for antibody testing. Note that these FDA approved tests require your blood to be drawn and sent to a lab for testing. The so-called “rapid tests” done with a simple finger stick have proven inaccurate so far. Other companies may have approved tests very soon.

Vaccine development is difficult and time-consuming. The most optimistic estimates are 6 months. Typical vaccine development takes years.

We hope you and your families stay safe. Be well.

Key Points
Social media influencers have ramped up promotion of various fixes for the coronavirus.
Beware of claims that sound too good to be true.
Consult your primary care doctor, the CDC, or local academic medical centers for credible and proven information about diagnosis, treatment, and testing for the coronavirus.

(Dr. Dev K. Mishra, a Clinical Assistant Professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University and Medical Director of Apeiron Life, is the creator of the SidelineSportsDoc.com online injury management course and the Good to Go injury assessment App for coaches, managers, parents and players. Mishra writes about injury recognition and management at SidelineSportsDoc.com blog, where this article originally appeared.)

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