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.