The Department of Justice has filed a complaint against a product promoted by Steve Bannon, a former chief strategist for President Trump, contending it’s an “unproven” COVID-19 treatment.
That’s even though the government itself has confirmed, through scientific studies, that the contents “are integral parts of the immune system and show synergistic functions at various stages of the host defenses, such as the maintenance of the integrity of biological barriers and the functionality of cells that make up the innate and adaptive systems.”
The ingredients, the government said, can be “an important measure to improve the immune system and to prevent the development of severe symptoms” in fighting COVID-19.
The London Independent reported the product is manufactured by the Wellness Warrior and has been promoted on Bannon’s show, “War Room.”
The civil complaint doesn’t name Bannon. It cites Eric Anthony Nepute and Quickwork LLC, doing business as Wellness Warrior.
The product, a combination of vitamin D3 and zinc, includes a common disclaimer for vitamins and other natural products: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
The action comes under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, approved by Congress last year, which bans any “deceptive act or practice” related to the global pandemic.
The complaint, in federal court in Missouri, alleges the defendants declare in advertising the product prevents or treats COVID-19, “without competent or reliable scientific evidence to support their claims.”
The report said, “They also allegedly advertised, without scientific evidence, that their supplements were equally or more effective therapies for Covid-19 than the currently available vaccines.”
Brian Boynton of the DOJ’s civil division said in a statement, “The Justice Department is committed to preventing the unlawful marketing of unproven Covid-19 treatments.”
A simple web search found hundreds of thousands of promotions for vitamin D and zinc as “a supplement” and for “upper respiratory support.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine under the National Institutes of Health posted online a Frontiers in Nutrition study published last December that focused on the use of vitamin D and zinc “with a focus on physical tissue barrier integrity.”
It concluded: “Several minerals and vitamins have antioxidant, immunomodulatory and antimicrobial roles which could be helpful for the immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the absence of a widely available treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19, supplementation of micronutrients emerges as an important measure to improve the immune system and to prevent the development of severe symptoms. Some of these micronutrients are the vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and minerals such as selenium, magnesium, and zinc.”
The report continued: “In this review, the role of zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D for immunity was explored since these micronutrients show the strongest evidence for immune support. In this scenario, the mentioned studies demonstrate that zinc and vitamins C and D are integral parts of the immune system and show synergistic functions at various stages of the host defenses, such as the maintenance of the integrity of biological barriers and the functionality of cells that make up the innate and adaptive systems. Therefore, the deficiency or insufficiency of these key nutrients, acting in synergy in tight and adherens junction proteins, can lead to impairment of mucosal epithelial cells, possibly making them more susceptible to pathogen entry, such as SARS-CoV-2.”
Finally, it said: “Overall, the medical literature demonstrates that the supplementation with zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D can mitigate viral respiratory infections. Thus, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the supplementation with such nutrients may be characterized as a widely available, safe and low cost measure that can be useful to cope with the increased demand for these nutrients in case of contact with the virus and onset of the immune responses, as well as to lower the risk of severe progression and prognosis of this viral infection.”
Vitamin D is seldom marketed. Most of the products are D2, which comes from plant sources such as wild mushrooms, or D3, which comes mainly from animal sources such as fish oil, liver and egg yolks.
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