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Unproven COVID-19 Products, Supplements & Medicines

Unproven COVID-19 Products & Supplements: What Parents Need to Know Unproven COVID-19 Products & Supplements: What Parents Need to Know

​​If you see a treatment or cure for influenza or COVID-19 that looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns families about fake or unapproved products that claim to protect people from catching influenza, COVID-19 or other viruses. These products could be unsafe. They include herbal teas, dietary supplements, mouthwashes, essential oils, tinctures, colloidal silver and air filters. The FDA also raises concerns about unproven COVID-19 tests and medications.

Wording to watch for

The FDA has not approved any over-the-counter medications or products that can prevent or cure influenza or COVID-19. These phrases often are on fake products:

  • reduces the severity and length of illness

  • boosts your immunity

  • is a safe and effective alternative to the vaccine

  • treats a wide range of diseases

  • contains secret ingredients or

  • includes personal testimonials

COVID-19 test kits

The FDA also warns about COVID-19 t​est kits sold for at-home use without its approval. The FDA has approved ​certain at-home tests. Other ways to be tested for COVID-19 are to contact your health care provider or visit a testing site.


Be cautious about using online pharmacies that offer antiviral prescription medication at low prices without a doctor's prescription. These pharmacies usually are not in the United States. The medications may have harmful ingredients. If you use an online pharmacy, make sure it is approved.

There has been interest in some medicines meant for other conditions, or even animals, against COVID-19. Remember that using any medication not approved or authorized by the FDA, unless as part of a clinical trial, can cause serious harm. For example, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC​) warn that people should not take the drug ivermectin, used in products meant to treat or prevent parasites. Multiple people who took ivermectin meant for horses and cattle have had to be hospitalized.​

Check with your pediatrician

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 or influenza, call your pediatrician. The doctor can decide the best way to care for your child. Common symptoms of both illnesses include fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness, muscle or body aches, headache, stuffy or runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea. One symptom more likely with COVID-19 is the loss of taste or smell.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. Children 8 years old and younger need two doses given at least four weeks apart when getting vaccinated for the first time. A COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for children under 16.

More information

Last Updated
Adapted from AAP News Parent Plus, “Watch out for fake treatments, tests for flu, COVID-19,” January 2021
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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