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Reader View: ‘I am recovering from Covid, no immunity-boosting products have helped’

YourTurn is our new weekly feature in which ThePrint's readers share their views or opinions in response to the question of the week.

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New Delhi: With Covid-19’s surge in India, there has been an increased demand for products with immunity-boosting claims. From turmeric milk to supplements, Indian firms have launched new products to lure customers who are worried about their health during the pandemic.

We asked our readers: Are people being taken for a ride by immunity-boosting products due to Covid?

This is what some of them had to say:

‘Personal experience has shown me immunity boosters are a sham’

As a patient who’s currently recovering from Covid, I can say from personal experience that all this ‘immunity-boosting’ business is a total sham. My family being one of those WhatsApp reliant ones (especially in times of peril) believed in every ‘nuskha’ or kadha recipe they received along with the many ready-made packets available in the market. None of them, expect the one that was consumed hot which only provided relief for sore throat, did anything for my body that I would deem them beneficial. People have created entire businesses behind the veil of home remedies with their products marketed on WhatsApp and scared people latching on to any form of hope that they can in these times of uncertainty — Pranav Gupta, Delhi. Twitter handle: @freud_momo.

‘People are not being taken for a ride’

No, not at all. Various reports, endorsed by several well known health experts, have shown that people with a weak immune system may end up having serious disease after contracting Covid-19 infection. It has been found to be fatal for people with low immune systems like old men and women, children, pregnant women, people with certain diseases etc. The immune system plays a critical role in our response against infectious diseases. It is the body’s multi-level defense network against potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and other organisms. The Ministry of AYUSH says that “while coronavirus reduces the immune response of the infected person, it has also been observed that mostly it targets people with a low immune system”. Therefore experts feel that the improvement of the immune system helps in reducing the effects of the infection and also fight Covid-19. All this takes me to the conclusion that people are not being taken for a ride instead they are being taken for a drive as a precaution by immunity-boosting products — Prajjwal Kasera, Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh. Twitter handle: @Prajjwal82297192.

‘These products are cash-cows for companies to exploit people’

As coronavirus raged, life became a roller coaster ride. Humanity has evolved overtime but fear of life and death has always stayed with us and holds true for present uncertainties.

In such a grave situation where unemployment, hunger and health crises are queued up, few companies are seeing it as a cash cow and exploiting people with so-called health products like immunity boosters which are neither scrutinised nor do they follow any medical guidelines.

When people are scared, their judgment may be impaired. We just want a solution, and up comes a photo of a woman or man in a beautiful setting telling you that a certain herbal or vitamin supplement can help you.

Even though you know it can’t be real, everyone wants to believe in magic — Anil Raj, Hyderabad. Twitter handle: @Anilraj.Ary.

‘Status of immunity-boosting foods rest on poorly reviewed studies’

From Coronil to gaumutra, people are now buying anything and everything that feels vaguely nutritional or immunity-boosting. Immunity-boosting foods usually gain their status from obscure, poorly reviewed studies and actual findings being watered down to appeal to larger audiences. This is, however, not a new phenomenon, health and healthy foods have always been fields where misinformation spreads like wildfire but with the onset of a global pandemic, this misinformation has been fervently equipped by pseudoscientific blogs, pseudoscientific corporations and pseudoscientific men who know that repackaging cough medicine as a cure for coronavirus will be a profitable venture — Aditi Srivastava, Kanpur. Twitter handle: @a_deity_03.

‘Companies are good at making hay while the sun shines’

A vaccine for Covid-19, as proclaimed by several experts, may be months away if not years. Due to this, people have grown desperate out of need to at least increase their immunity until a cure comes along. Seeing a huge market, companies have started selling various immunity-boosting products. While effectiveness of such products and companies’ ethics, both can be argued upon, it must be said that these companies are really good at making hay while the sun shines. No doubt people are being taken advantage of even in these tough times. But consumers will get wiser as time passes by — Rohit Naik, Sanquelim, Goa. Twitter handle: @rohit_naik_

‘Immunity doesn’t increase by consuming a few extra products’

Definitely yes, well since the escalation in the virus we’ve seen a tremendous increase in fake news too as if the latter is a concomitant. Now India, a country wherein its citizens are inclined towards herbs and plants for getting rid of common flu, it becomes quite simple to beguile people. In times like these, various industries have turned this misfortune to an opportunity for selling certain products by adding words such as ‘natural immunity-booster’, ‘increases immunity’, etc. What we really need to understand is that immunity cannot increase by merely consuming a few extra products for a short period of time. Moreover, in my opinion, fighting any disease requires more of will power than medication — Srishti Singla, Panipat, Haryana. Twitter handle: @SrishtiSingla3.

‘Marketers are using unethical ways to earn money’

During the pandemic, businesses have still found a way to earn money. Recently, many Indian companies have started to launch many products to boost the immunity of the people. The emergence of these products has also put a question mark on the effectiveness of such products. People are pilling up these products without thinking of their effectiveness. Some doctors have also written articles that improving one’s immunity by supplements is unconvincing. Thus, marketers are using unethical ways to earn money by selling products as immunity-boosting — Manas Rai, Varanasi. Twitter handle: @MnsRai.

‘Companies leaving no stone unturned to capitalise on crisis’

With a weak immunity system in my early 20s, I must say the immunity-boosting products are certainly a quintessential lure in these trying times. I imagine it’s the same with scores of individuals across the country. A notion further nourished by the PM when he advocated Ayurvedic remedies to combat Covid-19 in his Twitter handle. He’s someone who made virtually an entire nation light ‘diyas’ and clang utensils in unison against the virus. Naturally, companies are leaving no stone unturned to capitalise on this by advertising their products as immunity-boosters sans any substantial evidence of that being the case — Aritra Dutta Gupta, Kolkata. Twitter handle: @AritraDuttaGup5.

‘Human life is too precious to be used as marketing bait’

Indians have always been fascinated by immunity-boosting products. From health drinks to soft drinks, marketing has revolved around advertising jingles stressing on immunity.

With the arrival of Covid, this game has achieved new heights and people’s ignorance and helplessness has added fuel to fire. Lack of awareness and blind faith on such products/brands have not only delayed timely treatment but has also lead to irreversible damages.

Television channels and brand-ambassadors have to be much more responsible while promoting such products. Government agencies must be proactive to curtail misleading statements.

Brands must realise that human life is too precious to be used as marketing bait — Soumik Bakshi, Chennai.

‘Unproven immune-boosting products can deteriorate health’

With the Covid-19 crisis engulfing us, the certain prevention and so called immune-boosting products spreading like wildfire during a hot rain-less summer are just dubious concoction of nonsense which are promoted to take advantage of people to make money in their vulnerable times. Studies show that our immune system cannot be boosted in such a way but it is more complex and in-built. These immune-boosting products will not prevent us from the virus but following the normal rules of social distancing, sanitising regularly, wearing masks and being careful which doesn’t cost a dime is enough to prevent ourselves. Taking some unproven immune-boosting products can instead deteriorate our health and lead to other ailments — Linda Sailo, Aizawl. Twitter handle: @linda_sailo777.

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  1. So you tell what we will do now? If someone is getting hope for recovery with Ayurvedic treatment so why you are getting jealous of that. You are idiot. If you don’t have any solution then stop saying nonsense.

  2. go and get some life.. you are publishing their tweets as they are doctors. If those Indian business people are marketing their products that doesn’t mean the whole ayurvedic things are bullshit.. How much they have paid you for this fake narratives?? Medicine companies paid you for this article??

    • Ayurveda literally recommends bullshit as medicine. Need I say more?
      If they are not exposed, these Ayurvedic quacks will recommend actual bullshit as an immunity booster.

      Everything on Print I have read so far is nothing a scientific doctor would disagree with. It is not like they are promoting anything against what doctors and scientists say, except maybe the editor who wrote along the lines of: we are India, Corona won’t bother us that much, this is my experience (of not much science or pandemics). Other than that the articles here have been fine. But the commenters like you seem to be too uneducated about science and seem to be fooled by pseudoscience.

      During a pandemic, it is extremely important to call out quacks. They are dangerous to society. You don’t care about lives? Just your political beliefs?

  3. Our human body has natural immunity and vital energy. We need to help the body to maintain the immunity to fight against the virus following yoga and naturopathy system of medicine is the best way to protect our family without much cost and our father of nation mahatma Gandhi has advocated long back with good vision dr n manavalan, and naturopathy medical college and hospital, chennai

    • Hey quack. “vital energy” was disproved a long time ago.
      Stop misleading people.
      Google: vitalism

  4. It is my personal experience that immunity boosters such as hot milk with turmeric powder, Sitopaladi Churna taken with honey improves one’s ability to fight Covid-19.
    Readers are intelligent to understand the decide what is better for them. Leave it to them.
    Thanks for your negative writing. It was never expected from you.

    • Your problem is you are not intelligent.
      Personal experience is delusional in medicine. That is why studies are done.
      You won’t understand this. You are too uneducated for this.

  5. Brainless article.
    Any food, even rice, wheat , pulses etc gives power to our body. What is harm if we take some additional nutrients in form of dry fruits, hurbs, milk, ghee etc.
    It gives us mental satisfaction of being safe. Isn’t it giod to be remain in positive mindset at this critical time.
    Isn’t it better than consuming intoxicants & smoking, but print wont write about harmfull effect of such things
    The Print & such type of news portals are always on negative side, that’s the reason people don’t believe them.
    Don’t spread confusion,

    • Are you a Patanjali employee? Now you say people should buy it because it is better than alcohol?
      Sure, sell your unproven crap at production costs, without markup and we will consider eating it, because why not.

      Learn some science man. Don’t talk uneducated.
      Exact essential nutrients are now known. You don’t need to eat any herbs for strength when you eat normally.

  6. After all big question is from where we get immunity ?answer is not so simple but almost all scientific studies shows that it’s from what we eat and how much we sleep . So diet must have certain components which help improving immunity and some foods may be better than others so there is a possibility of some immunity boosters but they must be taken on long term basis ,and taking them just during pandemic is not going to help . But just discarding everything without a logic is also foolish and some people in press who themselves have no knowledge of these things also opposing only for the sake of opposing just like companies promoting them for profits

    • Don’t overthink. You are not good at it. Immunity Boosters are a well known scam.
      They are scientifically proven to be ineffective in preventing diseases.
      A balanced diet takes care of everything. Guess why it is called “balanced”.
      There is no food that will make you more healthy if you already eat a balanced diet.
      All these boosters, even most supplements are just false advertising to make money.

  7. Immunity Boosters are not “curative medicines” and will not cure infections. They prevent infections – my wife (71+) Me (84) and our Care Giver (18) all three are on Ashwagandha and Gudichi for a month now and very confident that Covid-19 and other vriuses are kept away!
    Localised Plant based foods like Coronil of Patanjali are combinations of extracts of medicinal plants, short shelf-life but effective in curing early stage of infections and asymptomatic patients. Medicinal Plants also have curative effects and some are poisonous too. Almost all Synthetic Drugs are (mirror-images of plant food essences) literally imitations. All Synthetic Drugs have several adverse Indications, mind you.
    You have erred in equating Immunity Boosters with Curative “repurposed synthetic drugs” that will give you relief but will have adverse side effects; that is why casualties from co-morbidities are being reported – adverse Side Effects of Synthetic Drugs.

    • Immunity Boosters are pseudoscience. Google that exact sentence.
      You don’t need them. This will be difficult to understand for you.
      Everything you wrote is nonsense.

    • This is the biggest harm of these AYUSH fake treatments. People at risk (old like you who are at maximum risk from Covid-19) take these placebos and think they are protected. They literally don’t do anything against viruses (or anything). Immunity Boosters don’t exist. They are total scams.

      Thinking you safe, you go out, meet people and expose yourself. Your confidence of ignorance does not matter.

      You don’t have basic concepts and you obviously have a very shallow understanding of disease. Co-morbidities and side effects are completely different. Don’t get confused. Stay home and practice social distancing. You don’t need quack medicines.

  8. Did they recovered without any medicines too. If yes then icmr and govt should ban all money making drug companies.

    • Looks like you banned your brain.
      Nearly all young and healthy Covid-19 patients recover without any medicines.
      So they cunningly only tested in young and healthy people because they knew they will get a good outcome even though their kit does not do anything.

  9. Immunity doesn’t help?seriously…
    Who made you writer?
    Only to make coronil a failure see what level of dirt you have moved on.
    Lowest level of reporting is this…

    • Actually, misdirected strong immunity is one part of the problem in Covid-19.
      Immunity is good. But to a normal person eating balanced diet, you cannot “boost” immunity by eating special foods. Immunity does not work like that.
      Read Immunology.

      • There is a scientific study available that reveals when the innate part of immune system is unable to hold the virus at bay, the virus replicates and due to the increased viral load the adaptive part of the immune system mounts a war on the virus. It is this strong adaptive immune response that can kill.

  10. We should not get carried away by these ads and products claiming cure or immunity.
    We should follow the long tested saying of elders that early to bed and early to rise is the best way to be healthy wealthy and wise and various others life principles followed about 50 years ago

  11. Anyone with a half size brain should know that these foods definitely have immune-boosting abilities. However, they don’t work overnight and give you that shield. It takes months or maybe years for them to show any effects. Plus there are multiple factors how an immune system could be affected.
    We can consume these superfoods to start building on our immune system in general, hopefully, it may come in handy if not now maybe a year later.
    During one of the worst times in history, these businesses find it appropriate to sell such products and mislead people into buying them. Most of these healthy food selling brands have been misleading the whole world for a long time. Nobody cares, our governments choose to turn a blind eye. The monitoring agencies probably take bribe and keep it shut.

    Half the products that are sold in the FMCG market would not qualify as a healthy product but no one cares.

    • Actually, only half-brains think special foods boost immunity in normal people eating balanced diet.
      Immunity boosters are a popular scam.
      Most of the health food market is a scam, not just herbals. Even modern health foods and supplements are mostly a scam.

  12. Thank you Print. This needs to be said.

    For quack believers

    Google: The pseudoscience of immune system boosting
    Google: Boosting the immune system – sorting science from myth

    So, if someone says “this boosts your immune system,” your first question must be “which of the thousands of different parts? Your second question should probably be “do you have a peer-reviewed article that supports that wild claim?”

    Everything the quacks say about immune boosting, shields and kavach’s is just fake. Immunologists are experts who study immune systems. They say that other than eating a normal healthy diet, there is nothing that needs to be done to “boost” immunity. All so-called immunity boosters are pseudoscience. Don’t waste money on fake products, practice social distancing and masks when necessary.

    • While everything that you said is true, however, some foods do have higher immune-boosting capabilities. Incorporating them into our daily lives will eventually give the us benefit. It is subject to so many other aspects, such as, what is my lifestyle, what are my other habits, I can’t sit around at home all day, smoking 20 cigarettes and hope that a glass of vitamin c will save me from the corona.

      It is frustrating that these companies take advantage of people who fall prey to these claims. There are a lot of people afraid of this pandemic and these companies will take advantage of that.

      • I have issue with your statements like: “We can consume these superfoods to start building on our immune system in general”. They are simply not true. There is no science to back that up. They are simply baseless beliefs.

        The immune system is fine the way it is. Eat balanced. Rest well. Work well. These will help. But superfoods? That is nonsense.

        You are welcome to disagree, but you must show studies agreed by all scientists. Not just your opinions. Not some small bad papers. Are there some foods with more nutrition than others? Yes. But you should be able to name what that nutrition is and know what the proper level of consumption is. Just saying useless terms such as superfoods, immune boosters, without showing science is silly.

        Nutritious food never comes from a bottle or a pill. Say no to fake powders. Eat real food.

  13. You always have fake narrative. You are misleading people. Action must be taken against you and your post. Blody psostitute son.

  14. writer seems most inteligent person of the universe , without knowing facts about our herbs he is trying to misguide the readers ,

    • Not exactly, sir, I agree that there are traditional herbs that can help, they can potentially improve the immune system. However, there is no scale that can measure an immune system and by no means, you can figure it out that an x level of the immune system will protect you from the virus.
      People with the best of immune system get the seasonal flu.
      The point that the article is trying to make here is that how companies are taking advantage of the current circumstances and going to an extent to make falls claims that have no backed up studies.
      Not just now, for a long time most of the products sold as healthy in the market are not exactly in its true sense.

      • If there is no scale, don’t claim “boosting”. Just say you have no way of knowing.
        You are retroactively defining whoever does not have flu as having best immune system. A guy who does not get flu may get something else and so on. There is no “best” in normal immune systems.

        “most of the products sold as healthy in the market are not exactly in its true sense” – this is true and this is especially true for traditional herbs as well.

  15. Antara khumbaka yoga can cure corona in 3 days . I an ready to say this in 1000 Temples.
    Professor C. Jambunathan.

    • Say that in 1000 peer reviewed journals, and educated people will listen.
      What will screaming in temples get you? That alone says you know this is religion, not medicine.

      Who the hell gave you a professorship? Professor in what?

    • Sir, my question to you is when the country is battling for months why haven’t you volunteered to speak about it to higher authorities and prove your science and claims.
      Why simply find places like these to self promote yourself.

  16. There is no measurable parameter to test ones immunity level. May be overall WBC or specifically lymphocytes or platelet counts or some antioxidant enzyme levels can be an indicator. No doctor or a physiology specialist has specified how to test the immunity before and after taking a prophylactic.

  17. Immunity is always a factor but one cannot measure it on any scale. so if people are rushing for these immunity boosting products but one has to understand it’s complete change in lifestyle and regular intake of natural products which helps in boosting of one’s immune system. Overall good immunity can provide you sheild against any infection it’s not at all debatable.

    • Eat natural produce, not products.

      Produce is local vegetables you buy down the street. Peel the skin, cut it yourself and eat. You don’t have to give these frauds a cut. There are no fake advertisements.

      Eating factory “natural” products like this is not a healthy lifestyle.

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