Update (6/4/20): The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission sent a May 19 warning letter to the Natural Solutions Foundation after the agencies found that it was selling “unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.” Their reviews occurred on March 11 and May 6, respectively, but the warning letter was not made public until June 2, after the publication of this article.
Rima E. Laibow is a quack doctor who scammed people in 2014 by peddling her brand of nano-silver as a cure for the Ebola virus. She’s now fraudulently selling that product as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it's for “anyone interested in not being a statistic in this pandemic” and that it can support “your cell membrane that is your last line of defense against the COVID virus.”
She also advised people who think they have been exposed to the coronavirus or are starting to have corresponding symptoms that they should increase the daily usage of her product so they can supposedly protect themselves.
Laibow is an Arizona-based doctor, commentator, and conspiracy theorist. She is the medical director of the Natural Solutions Foundation, which describes itself as “a private international NGO (Non Governmental Organization) focused on health and food freedom.” She also posts coronavirus conspiracy theories on a website called Open Source Truth.
She has a history of fraudulently marketing her silver. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sent her a warning letter after she repeatedly claimed that her nano-silver could cure, treat, and prevent the Ebola virus. (Laibow has heavily disputed the federal government’s action.) A June 2015 business plan posted on her website stated that “during two recent periods, mid 2009 and late 2014, (the ‘Swine Flu’ panic of 2009 and the viral threat in 2014) we sold over a $100,000 volume of silver per month for several months each time, with continuing residual sales.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.” The FDA and FTC have been sending warning letters to companies that promote their products as being able to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19.
The Natural Solutions Foundation has a Facebook page which has touted silver as a coronavirus solution. On February 12, it promoted Laibow’s silver as a way to “support your immune system so effectively that you no longer need worry about whatever diseases are coming attacking you” and included the hashtag “#COVID19.”
Facebook has said that it does not allow promotions of false cures on its platform, though it is inconsistent in terms of enforcing the supposed ban.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Laibow has frequently pushed her nano-silver as a coronavirus solution. Here are seven examples:
- On February 6, Laibow wrote, “It does not matter if the novel coronavirus is a weaponized verson of a natural virus or not in terms of infection. What matters is that your immune system prevents it from making you sick or spreading it to others. And the very best way I know to do that is to support your immune function with my evidence-based, non-toxic Nano Silver 10 PPM. I take 1 cap full prophylactically once a day and have absolutely no fear or concern about coming down with whatever this, or any other, bug can do. None.” She later added: “Treat yourself to Coronavirus Confidence. I love having it and so will you. I am betting my life on it.”
- On February 22, Laibow discussed the coronavirus and promoted and linked to her product. She wrote, “Your number one ally in this prevention process is Nano Silver 10 PPM. The best I know of on the planet is available here: Nano Silver 10 PPM. … I strongly recommend that anyone interested in NOT being a statistic in this pandemic do the same.”
- On February 26, Laibow wrote: “The very best way I know to have a supercharged immune system is to support your immune function with my evidence-based, non-toxic Nano Silver 10 PPM. I take 1 cap full for general support once a day and, if you think you have been exposed or start to have the symptoms that you think might be COVID-19, up the amount to 2-3 times per day. That way you need have absolutely no fear or concern about coming down with whatever this, or any other, bug. None. That is, after all, what your immune system is designed to confer on you: freedom from disease!”
- On March 23, Laibow wrote: “We urge our patients, friends and family to always get plenty of rest, avoid stress, and eat a natural, wholesome diet, including supplementing with the best nutrient supplements. During times such as these important nutrients include Vitamins C and D3, along with immune-system supporting Nano Silver 10 PPM.” A link to “Dr. Rima Recommends: Nano Silver 10 PPM” was posted at the top of the piece.
- On April 9, Laibow promoted and linked to her silver product, writing: “We urge you to lay in a supply of Nano Silver 10 PPM to handle whatever new plague they throw at us by supporting your immune system to make it as close to invulnerable as humanly possible.”
- On April 23, Laibow promoted and linked to her silver product, writing: “Use Nano Silver 10 PPM, which has been shown, in vitro, to support normal cell membrane integrity — and it is your cell membrane that is your last line of defense against the COVID virus adhering, penetrating and replicating. No replication, no disease.”
- On May 1, Laibow wrote a post with the headline “What We Know About Coronavirus.” She stated: “We know that immune protection like Nano Silver 10 PPM, Intravenous Vitamin C, oral zinc, vitamin D3 and sunlight are essential for well-being and survival. But these solutions, natural ones all, are at stark odds with the induced terror and obedience sought by those who would control, inject and, perhaps, kill us.”
Media Matters has documented numerous media personalities and outlets that have been pushing coronavirus-related scams and grifts.
*This paragraph was updated with additional information on May 19.
Correction (6/1/20): The second sentence of this piece was changed. It previously stated: “She’s now fraudulently selling that product as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that it’s ‘your last line of defense’ and for ‘anyone interested in not being a statistic in this pandemic.’”