- Scammers are calling or texting people, offering COVID-19 vaccine reservations in return for credit card details and social security numbers.
- There’s no such thing as a coronavirus vaccine, although plenty of countries have them in development.
- There’s no specific COVID-19 treatment either, even though some existing drugs have shown promise on some patients.
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Several countries are working on fast-tracking a COVID-19 vaccine that could prevent the disease from spreading, assuming the virus doesn’t mutate by the time a vaccine is ready. However, the vaccine won’t be available until next year, according to most estimates, as these new drugs will have to go through the same regulatory hurdles as any other type of vaccine, no matter how dire the situation might be.
Trials and studies will need to be conducted to demonstrate the efficiency and safety of the vaccines before they become available to the general public. In other words, hang up immediately if anybody calls you promising immediate access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Police from the Daly City Police Department as well the Sheriff’s Department in Lucas Country, Ohio issued warnings about the new scam on social media:
New scam: People are claiming to be from the CDC offering to let people "reserve a vaccine for the COVID-19" with a credit card and/or social security number. There is no vaccine reserve program, and the CDC is not offering anything of the sort. Do not fall prey!
— Daly City Police (@DalyCityPD) March 17, 2020
People are apparently calling to take reservations for a vaccine in exchange for a credit card or a social security number. As a rule of thumb, you should hang up immediately as soon as anyone asks you for such details over the phone, especially if you’re not the one initiating the call. Giving out those details to scammers might cost you dearly, especially when it comes to sharing your social security number.
As soon as a vaccine is ready, and we’ve already covered some of the efforts that are underway, authorities will announce it. Your best place to look for guidance are the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which will be among the first regulatory bodies to deliver these updates to the public.
While we’re at it, there’s no magical drug that works for the coronavirus at this time, no matter what you hear on social media. Doctors in various countries have used drugs that are meant to treat other diseases with promising results, though. Examples include Umifenovir (Arbidol), Favipiravir (Avigan), Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), Remdesivir, Losartan, as well as HIV-specific drugs. These drugs aren’t even part of the same family. Some are antivirals, one is for malaria, one treats high blood pressure, and another was developed to fight Ebola.
In each case, there’s not enough data, and more testing will be required before governments around the world introduce any anti-COVID-19 therapies, including any of the drugs above, or any combination thereof. Pharmaceutical giants are also working on new therapies for this particular coronavirus, but it might take years before any of those drugs are approved.
Your body’s immune system will fight off the infection, and in most cases, it will defeat the virus. You must isolate yourself if you exhibit symptoms (fever, coughing, and shortness of breath), and talk to your doctor about the proper course of treatment.
As for scammers trying to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, keep reporting them to authorities, and make sure you block those numbers in the process. The same goes for any email campaigns that might target you. Move them to spam and wait for official news from authorities regarding COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.