ConsumerLab.com Answers  

Supplements from China: Coronavirus Risk?

Question:
Can I get the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from supplements from China?
Coronavirus Risk With Supplements from China? -- 'Coronavirus' written on paper surrounded by supplements capsules and tablets
Answer:
Many of the ingredients used in dietary supplements come from China. Even supplements that are "made in the U.S." may include ingredients from China, where the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV (causing the disease known as COVID-19) is believed to have originated. Due to temporary shutdowns of businesses in some areas of China, there may be disruptions in the supply of these ingredients from China. There is no requirement for a dietary supplement to list the country of origin of its ingredients, so your question is a valid one.

However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), "In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures." "Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods."

How long does coronavirus last on surfaces?

More needs to be learned about this new virus, but, currently there is no reason to believe that you can catch it from a dietary supplement. A more likely, but still remote, concern would be exposure to coronavirus from handling the packaging of a supplement shortly after it was handled by unclean hands of an infected person, and then touching one's mouth, eyes, or nose without first washing one's hands. A study found that 2019-nCoV (also called SARS-CoV-2) has a half-life (at about 72° F and 40% relative humidity) of 6.8 hours on plastic and 3.5 hours on cardboard, such that the amount of virus is undetectable in 3 days on plastic but within just 1 day on cardboard. (Interestingly, the virus was undetectable on stainless steel after about 2 days but within just 4 hours on copper.) (van Dormalen, NEJM (correspondence) 2020).

A review of past studies of coronaviruses (which did not include the more recent SARS-CoV-2 virus) indicated that they survive on surfaces longer at colder temperatures. For example, an experiment found that at 39° Fahrenheit, a type of coronavirus known as TGEV remained detectable on steel for more than a month, but this fell to 3 to 28 days at 68° and to only 4 to 96 hours at 104° (Kampf, J Hosp Infect 2020). This also suggests that if you are going to refrigerate or freeze a supplement that you recently obtained, either throw away or disinfect the outer packaging first.

How effective are disinfectants against coronavirus?

The same review of coronavirus research noted above found that the most effective disinfectants for coronaviruses were 62 - 71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, and 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (the main active ingredient in bleach). Less effective was benzalkonium chloride, which is the key active ingredient in alcohol-free hand sanitizers like Purell and Germ-X as well as being an ingredient in some wipes like Wet Ones. Chlorhexidine digluconate was not effective against coronaviruses, although it is also a key ingredient in some antiseptic wipes (it is more commonly found in prescription mouthwashes). [For more about disinfecting, see the list of products that meet EPA's criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.]

Ingredient quality is a greater concern

Problems that are more likely to be of concern with ingredients from China, as well as other parts of the world, relate to their inherent quality and purity. In 2019, 50% of Chinese manufacturing facilities inspected by the FDA were out of compliance with regulations, particularly by failing to follow procedures meant to ensure ingredient quality. Interestingly, an even higher percentage of U.S. facilities -- 52% -- were out of compliance. For this reason, all products that ConsumerLab reviews are tested for key compounds relating to their identity, and products that include significant amounts of whole herbs or minerals are tested for heavy metals.

Be aware that many supplements are being promoted online to boost the immune system and prevent or treat the coronavirus, and some websites and social media posts are recommending taking dangerously high doses of certain vitamins and minerals. Learn more about the evidence, and safety of supplements being promoted to fight COVID-19.

Learn About Supplements for Colds and Flu:



What are natural remedies for coronavirus (COVID-19)? Do supplements like zinc, vitamin C, or herbals work? >>

Do any supplements help for flu? >>

Does CBD help fight colds or the flu? >>

Do any supplements help prevent or treat a cold? >>

Which supplements are helpful to have when traveling? Any tips on how to best store supplements on trips? >>

How significant are the risks to drinking tea from China from heavy metals? >>

See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Jimmy19081   February 6, 2020
From China's National English language paper, Global Times:
https://mobile.twitter.com/globaltimesnews/status/1224326625749131265
The #coronavirus can survive for five days maximum on smooth surfaces under suitable circumstances: experts from China's Health Commission

Sam19164   March 11, 2020
I've read from many sources that it can last 9 days.

ConsumerLab.com   March 11, 2020
That may be true, but under very ideal circumstances for the virus. Unlikely this would be an issue for the consumer with regard to ingredients that would then be used in the manufacturer of a supplement. A more likely, although still remote, concern would now seem to be with the outer packaging of a product being handled by an infected person within the U.S. This could be the case with any type of product.

Peter19223   March 24, 2020
The CDC just released a report where they found Covid-19 in the rooms of infected passengers 17 days after they disembarked. It is simply too early to make definitive statements on how long this thing lasts outside of infected people.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_e&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM23553

ConsumerLab.com   March 24, 2020
Yes. There was little detail given about this (such as the amount or concentration of virus) and it was apparently from a personal communication -- not a published study, but it did state the following: "SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted ."


Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment:

Your edit has been submitted and is being reviewed by ConsumerLab.com prior to publication.
This CL Answer initially posted on 2/4/2020. Last updated 3/28/2020.
ConsumerLab.com members may submit questions to CLAnswers@ConsumerLab.com. We read all questions and try to answer those of popular interest.

 

   BECOME A MEMBER
JOIN NOW

SPECIAL
Coronavirus and Supplements
Coronavirus & Supplements
Note: We are continuously updating this information as evidence comes in.


Product Reviews

ENCYCLOPEDIA
In addition to our product reviews our encyclopedia covers the following:

Herbs & Supplements

Conditions

Drug Interactions

Alternative Therapies

MEMBER TESTIMONIALS


Follow us on...
facebook twitter
 
 
Join |  Sign In
   
Join Us on Facebook! Join Us on Instagram! Join Us on Twitter! Join Us on YouTube! Join Us on YouTube!
Product Reviews
Brands Tested
Health Conditions
Encyclopedia
CL Answers
Clinical Updates
News
Recalls & Warnings
Recommended Intakes
Where to Buy Products
Testing Program
How Products Were Tested
Quality Certification Program
Join CL Today
Testimonials
Join Free Newsletter
Group Subscriptions
Gift Membership
About Us
The CL Seal
CL Survey
Privacy Policy
Sitemap
Contact Us/Help

©2020 ConsumerLab.com, LLC. All rights reserved. A single copy of a report may be printed for personal use by the subscriber. It is otherwise unlawful to print, download, store or distribute content from this site without permission.
ConsumerLab.com name and flask logo are both registered trademarks of ConsumerLab.com, LLC. This site is intended for informational purposes only and not to provide medical advice.