These ‘anti-virus’ cards are ineffective in preventing Covid-19 infection, experts say

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Multiple posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook purport to show a “virus removal card” that can prevent infection from Covid-19 when worn around the neck. The claim is false: scientists told AFP that the cards are not effective in protecting the wearer from Covid-19.

Three photos of a man wearing and holding the purported “virus removal cards” were published here on a Facebook page for an online shop on November 20, 2020. The post was shared almost 600 times.

Screenshot of the misleading post

Part of the post’s Burmese-languauge post translates to English as: “[The virus removal card] blocks and protects the virus from reaching 3 feets radius when hanging around your neck. People working at companies, [government] departments, and anyone who interacts with people should carry the card. And there are no side effects.”

A similar claim about the product was also published here on November 27, 2020.

Thw post translates to English, in part, as: “Now you can go out with your lover ? Are you still scared of COVID-19 ???? Do not worry. Here is an Anti-virus card with a stylish necklace! Virus Block Out...99.9% Sterilization Rate”.

A similar claim was also published on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

However, the claim is false: scientists and medical experts told AFP the cards do not protect people from Covid-19 infection or any other illness.

'Bogus' product

Robert Serafino, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at Barts Health hospitals in London, said that the cards were ineffective.

“This product is bogus and should be banned from use anywhere in the world,” he told AFP.

“SARS-COV2 is inactivated by direct application of the disinfectant on the contaminated surface and for a certain duration of time. This product alleges that it protects against the virus, inactivating [it] in the air. It does not state the concentration of the disinfectant within this product,” he said.

Charles Ochero, an infectious diseases and microbiology specialist at The University of Edinburgh, also said he did not recommend using the cards.

“Those cards are not proven anywhere in the world. There is no scientific evidence that they are effective, neither on viruses nor bacteria,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly warned against untested products marketed as drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19.

In March, the WHO said it had come across “a growing number of falsified medical products that claim to prevent, detect, treat or cure COVID-19” in various countries.

Potentially 'very harmful'

Mark Ajak, an independent researcher in infectious diseases at the University of Western Australia, told AFP the tags use internal fans to filter the air. This is aimed at removing airborne objects including bacteria and viruses and recycling the air.

But while the virus cards may catch larger particles from the air such as dander, he said they were ineffective against Covid-19 because the novel coronavirus was too tiny to be captured by the device.

The concept of virus removal cards are based on “air purifiers that can clear the air from agents that cause respiratory problems or diseases in order to improve the quality of the space that is being occupied by people, but these air purifiers cannot kill viruses because of their size,” said Ajak.

“Covid-19 is transmitted from person to person and the only way to limit the spread is by fighting the spread using strong antiseptic or detergents through a strict hygiene practice.”

He warned that the card could potentially even prove to be “very harmful”.

“Virus-removing cards...contain chlorine oxide, which is effective on surfaces but it is very harmful on the respiratory system. It can lead to severe respiratory and eye irritations and skin burns because it is very corrosive”.