Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and Dietary Supplements
Can the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) be transmitted via dietary supplements or their packaging?
According to multiple public health agencies around the world, including CDC, WHO and FDA, coronaviruses are primarily spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. The current science shows no evidence that the virus can be acquired through consumption of a dietary supplement.
Moreover, the CDC reports that coronaviruses have poor survivability on surfaces and there is likely very low risk of spread from supplement products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks and exposed to different temperatures.
I have not been able to find my favorite supplements in stock at any of my brick and mortar or online stores. When will I be able to obtain them?
While there are some shortages of specific supplements, CRN members report that there is an ample supply of supplements being manufactured and transported at this time. Contact your supplement company, retailer or practitioner to get more detailed information on your specific situation.
Current shortages are limited in nature and are being driven by extreme demand rather than a lack of supply. Out of stock items should become readily available if the entire supplement value chain (sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, warehousing, retail, and laboratories that provide testing services) continues in operation. CRN is aggressively advocating at the federal, state, and local levels to make sure the industry can continue providing vital products that keep people nourished and promote better health.
Need and demand are great, and the dietary supplement industry is ready to do its part in serving the public during this pandemic.
How are supplements able to still be manufactured, transported and sold given shelter-in-place or social distancing requirements? What is the industry doing to protect its workers?
Essential aspects of commerce are permitted to continue despite current restrictions. Procedures are being modified where necessary to protect workers, following the latest CDC guidelines. For instance, additional personal protective equipment may be required, manufacturing lines may run with fewer workers, and temperature screens may be conducted on employees to ensure a healthy workforce.
I have heard there are supplements that can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). True?
No supplement may claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. Consumers and retailers should avoid products that suggest they do.
Should I be taking supplements to support my immunity during this time of pandemic?
Many dietary supplements do help support a healthy immune function. However, the decision whether to take a dietary supplement should be discussed with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner, who is the best person to help you effectively use supplements to promote your overall health and wellness. No supplement may claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.
How can I be assured that FDA is still doing adequate enforcement of the dietary supplement industry, when it is expending significant resources on testing, treatment and vaccine issues with respect to the coronavirus? Didn’t I hear some inspections were suspended?
The officials at FDA who are responsible for overseeing the dietary supplement industry are still very much on the job. However, FDA has postponed some routine facility inspections as it adjusts procedures to protect its own employees. FDA will continue “for-cause inspection assignments” that are deemed “mission-critical.”
CRN has reminded our members that they have the responsibility for complying with all FDA regulations. Manufacturers should carefully validate ingredients and continue to diligently comply with current Good Manufacturing Practices. Responsible dietary supplement companies also have quality teams in place who constantly monitor, test, and manage their production.
Now more than ever, it matters what companies and brands consumers choose. There are many ethical companies that produce excellent products. But there are also some outliers that do not follow the rules—and some companies may be tempted to cut corners in a time when they know FDA is suspending inspections. Consumers should rely on trusted brands and avoid buying products from a company they have never heard of.
What policies have been put in place at the federal, state, and local levels to deal with the pandemic?
Where else can I go for information?