When the Great Plague hit London in 1665, many believed it was the end of days. But for some it was an opportunity. Doctors ‘prescribed’ lucky charms, such as dead toads, to ward off the disease if worn around the neck. ‘Plague water’, apparently made from powdered unicorn horn, fetched a high price, while victims were directed to rub dead pigeons on their sores.
Today, with a global Covid death toll of about one million, it seems that once again there are those ready to cash in, with everything from vitamin supplements to face masks for pets, all said to protect us from the pandemic.
So are they brilliant breakthroughs… or useless junk? We asked experts for their verdict on six of the most eye-catching Covid-proofing products on the market.
FACEMASKS FOR DOGS
Yudote Dogs Face Mask, £8.99
Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets. Amazon sells a host of designs, and Yudote’s version supposedly protects against ‘smog, smoke, chemicals, mould, allergies and more’.
Masks for dogs exploded in popularity in China at the start of the pandemic, due to fears the virus could be spread to pets
Can pets even catch coronavirus? The answer, according to Dorothee Bienzle, professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, is yes. ‘Our research has shown that cats can get infected and exhibit symptoms,’ she says. But cats are more likely to get sick than dogs, which have been less likely to show symptoms in studies.
Crucially, Prof Bienzle says it is still unknown whether pets can pass Covid to their owners – but it seems unlikely.
Even so, doggy face masks are not the solution. Prof Bienzle says: ‘The risk of a dog choking on the mask is a greater risk than the small chance it would protect them from Covid.’
CANNABIS OIL TO FIX YOUR COVID ANXIETY
Love Hemp 3% CBD Oil, £19.99, pictured below
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of more than 100 chemicals in the cannabis plant. It has no narcotic effect, but advocates say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits. Love Hemp boss Tony Calamita suggests customers are using such products to treat Covid-related stresses.
Studies that have found psychological benefits of CBD involve medical-grade products with far higher concentrations of the substance than you’ll find on the high street, according to psychiatrist Amir Englund, from King’s College London.
A reduction in paranoid symptoms has been found in psychosis and schizophrenia patients – but only with substances made up of at least 98 per cent CBD. Love Hemp’s oil contains just three per cent. Also, there’s no good evidence that CBD oil eases anxiety or improves sleep.
Advocates of CBD say it has medicinal benefits, from relieving pain and anxiety to halting epileptic fits
AN IMMUNITY DRIP
Gallery Aesthetics Immunity IV, from £40
Vitamin drips – intravenous (IV) doses of Vitamins C, D, B12 and others – have soared in popularity over the past few years, with some online companies offering treatments at your office and even in shopping malls.
Facebook advertisements for Gallery Aesthetics’ Immunity IV drip say ‘With our current health crisis, you NEED to boost your immune system’, claiming the treatments are ‘a great way to help keep your immune system strong – IV vitamins are absorbed at 100 per cent’.
Vitamin drips have been widely criticised, with NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis warning that they risk ‘significant damage to health’.
Doctors say the needles risk skin infections, bruising, pain and inflammation of the vein, if not delivered by a medical professional. And Marcela Fiuza, of the British Dietetic Association, says that while there’s some evidence that doses of Vitamin C and D can help ward off infections in those who are deficient, ‘there is no evidence to suggest high doses of either will protect against coronavirus’.
SKIN PRODUCTS TO CURE MASK ACNE
Dr Jart+ Cryo Rubber So Cool Duo, £19.68
Korean skincare giant Dr Jart+ say ‘wearing protective face masks can lead to breakouts’. To combat this, it has launched a range of products, including cleansers, designed to combat what it calls ‘maskne’ – acne caused by masks.
Wearing a mask could increase spots in some people, says dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed. She says that hormones, genetics and bacteria that gets on to the skin are the main factors for acne, but adds: ‘Anything that generates friction, such as a mask, could cause more dirt and sweat to collect, increasing the risk of spots.’
So will Dr Jart+’s treatment tackle this? Perhaps, says Dr Ahmed. ‘It contains hyaluronic acid, which is highly moisturising, so it’ll prevent dry and flaky dead skin cells getting trapped – which can cause spots. Their mask is also very cold. This could destroy bacteria on the skin too.’
The 21-Day Immunity Plan, £8.42, pictured above
There’s growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to ‘rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19’.
There’s growing evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk of coronavirus, and this book, by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claims to ‘rapidly improve your metabolic health… and likely reduce the risk of severe effects from Covid-19’
The book contains healthy eating advice that may bring weight loss. But dietician Alexia Dempsey says the link between weight and Covid illness isn’t clear-cut, and adds: ‘There’s no proof that changing your diet for a short period will stop you getting seriously ill or make any difference to the immune system.’
THE VIRUS-FIGHTING DOOR HANDLE
Green Facilities Purehold Pull Handle Cover, £29.99
Makers say this plastic and silver cover for door handles kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria on contact. While Covid-19 is a virus, not bacteria, the firm’s website implies the product can tackle it.
Dr Tina Joshi, lecturer in molecular microbiology at Plymouth University, says that silver is antibacterial but is not known to be effective against viruses. She also says the handle would get less effective over time. ‘It might also lure people into a false sense of security, making them think there’s no need to wash their hands, which would be even more risky,’ she adds.