Unscrupulous business have been trying to take financial advantage of the global outbreak of the coronavirus by trying to sell products that they claim can protect people against the virus while some going to the extent of claiming that certain products can even cure it. So far no vaccine or workable drug for the ailments caused by the novel coronovirus have been found or discovered despite attempts by some of the leading pharma companies of the world.
Noting the increase in such incidents, the largest e-commerce platform of the world – Amazon.com, has banned more than one million such products making such claims about curing coronavirus.
Overpriced health products from unscrupulous sellers in their “tens of thousands” have also been removed by it, the online retailer said.
Earlier this month, concerns about some misleading Amazon listings, including fake treatments, were expressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
About 2,800 people have so far been killed worldwide because of the coronavirus outbreak – which is now officially called Covid-19.
Mass confusion was being caused by online claims of fake coronavirus treating drugs, the WHO said, and added urged the tech giants with such platforms to address the issue of the spread of misinformation about treatment of the virus outbreak.
The extent to which some sellers are trying to cash in on the coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared a public health emergency by the WHO, can be seen if one just searches Amazon with the word “coronavirus”, which invariably brings up results of products such as face masks, disinfectant wipes and newly-published books on viral infections. The other results shown on Amazon also include sale offers for vitamin C boosters – which has been declared to be a fake cure for the virus and it has been disseminated widely online.
While providing no details of the types of products that it claims it has removed from its e-commerce portal, reports have claimed that there are still many products that can be seen being offered on the platform related to the virus cure at unusually high prices.
According to a research on this done by the BBC, a search found that one seller selling a 50-piece stack of surgical masks was marked at a price of more than £170 even while a popular alternative of the same product which can be found being sold otherwise at approximately £36. However even for the cheaper product, the price has been rising steadily and dramatically since early January when the cost was less than £10, claimed a report published by the BBC.
“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” a spokeswoman of the e-retailer told Reuters in reference to the business practice of surging up prices of products to unreasonably high levels simply because such products are in high demand.
A company policy of Amazon that allows the company to take remove products that “hurt customer trust” was cited by the spokeswoman, which included products for which pricing “is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)