In a new blog post for Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness and lifestyle brand, the actor and CEO revealed that she's one of the many people who have been suffering from long-lasting side effects of COVID-19. Paltrow revealed that she'd had the virus "early on," and ever since has been faced with fatigue, brain fog, and inflammation. But never fear: As you might expect, the Goop founder has already slapped together a guide containing the products she's been using to heal — including an $8,600 (£6,129) gemstone necklace. (It's for hiking, okay?)
Researchers are estimating that about 10% of COVID-19 patients experience long-term symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, loss of taste or smell, and joint pain, according to a recent article from The Journal of the American Medical Association. People dealing with long-term side effects often call themselves long-haulers. "We don't know why it happens. It's a neglected area of science. But it's very real," Paul Pottinger, MD, director of the Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine Clinic at the UW Medical Center, previously told Refinery29. "It may be that these patients survived the viral infection because they have a very robust, active immune response. That kills off the infection, but it has consequences for the entire body."
Dr Pottinger advised people experiencing lingering issues after recovering from COVID to speak with their doctor. Paltrow opted to go to one of her favourite functional medicine practitioners Will Cole (a doctor of chiropractic; not an MD), who told her recovery would be slow, then recommended "intuitive fasting", cutting out sugar and alcohol... and, apparently, a lengthy list of shoppable products ranging from vitamins to face oils to the aforementioned necklace. (She can't go out without a chain, but limits herself to "just" this one $8,600 (£6,129) option for her hikes, if you're wondering.)
People will do anything to make a profit, and the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for scammers and money-hungry corporations alike to take advantage of our collective fear of the virus (and the broken healthcare system) to push alleged cures and products. Throughout the pandemic, wellness brands have been using buzzwords like "immune boosting" to sell their products. Back in April 2020, a California doctor was charged with fraud for selling "COVID-19 treatment packs" online that claimed to help prevent and cure the virus. In fact, Goop has already come under fire for promoting the nonexistent flu-preventing properties of elderberry chew on their website. To combat this, the US Food and Drug Administration has started to send out warning letters to companies for selling fraudulent products with claims to "prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus disease."
Of course, Paltrow is careful to avoid stating that any of these expensive, superfluous products are a cure for long-lasting COVID symptoms. The hiking boots (and hiking necklace — I can't get over it) are paired with a caption that vaguely gestures at the benefits of "moving your body" and "sweating out toxins," but doesn't outright claim to treat side effects. But her approach is toeing the line of deceptiveness and false advertising, all in the name of selling vitamins, powders, skincare products, and infrared sauna blankets.
Misinformation about the novel coronavirus and treatments for it have run rampant online from the earliest days of the pandemic. Pseudoscientific "cures" like a six-day bone broth cleanse and the "detoxifying superpowder" that Goop is pushing tend to harm people in the long run, rather than help them. If nothing else, they provide false hope that could keep people from seeking actual medical advice.
If you're experiencing long-lasting symptoms from COVID-19, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider, and lean on your friends and loved ones for social support. But you can remove the $125 (£100) T-shirt from your cart — even if it is GP's "favourite thing."