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Unmasking a supplement maker's deceptive COVID claims.

If you’re not ready to lose your mask, you’re not alone.

Even as the CDC now says people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can “resume activities without wearing a mask,” which for months had been recommended to help slow the spread of the virus, many consumers are hesitant to shed their masks. Some consumers may be looking for an added layer of protection.

Tapping into consumer anxiety about going maskless in public, Caligenix equates “less masks” with “more exposure” in a recent Facebook post promoting Immunotype, an “immunity supplement” it launched late last year. “Continue supporting your immune system,” the post (above) says.

Another recent Facebook post by the supplement company asks consumers: “Now that the world is re-opening, what steps are you taking to protect your #ImmuneSystem?” Its recommendation? Try Immunotype.

And on the Immunotype product page, to which a reader initially alerted, Caligenix says the supplement was “created in response to the pandemic outbreak,” adding “now more than ever, it’s crucial that we protect and supplement our immune systems.”

In April 2020, published an article about how, in the context of COVID-19, such immunity-boosting claims rise to implied disease-treatment claims that only FDA-approved drugs can make. Immunotype is not an FDA-approved drug. (Reminder: Supplements are not reviewed for safety and efficacy before they are sold to consumers.)

Caligenix, which describes itself as a genetic wellness brand, did not respond to a request for comment. We had also asked the company the following questions related to the marketing of Immunotype:

  • Is the supplement only available through a subscription? In response to an FAQ on its website (“Do I have to set up a subscription?”), Caligenix answers: “Immunotype runs on a subscription basis for your convenience – it’s hard enough to remember to take your vitamins, so we don’t want you to have to remember to order them, too.” However, the Immunotype product page advertises that it’s available via a “one-time purchase.” It’s $30 for 90 capsules. (Also, “due to the sensitive nature of our products,” the company doesn’t accept returns, according to another FAQ.)
  • Does Immunotype meet the FTC’s criteria to be marketed on product packaging as “Manufactured in the USA”? The Immunotype product page suggests that the company sources ingredients from global suppliers: “…we searched high and low to find suppliers that aligned with our values and standards. It took a few trips around the globe, but we found them.” However, for a product to be marketed as “made” or “manufactured” in the USA, the FTC’s Made in USA standard requires that “all or virtually all” of the product be made in the United States, meaning “all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin.”

The bottom line? Even with vaccination rates rising and COVID cases and deaths dropping to their lowest levels in nearly a year, there are still fears around the coronavirus — fears that supplement makers and others are keen to take advantage of. As such, consumers need to remain vigilant.

Find more of our coverage on the coronavirus here.

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