The first medical device "approved for COVID Long-Haulers" is... misleading advertising

Ok so there’s a company called Dolphin Neurostim which advertises its Vagus Nerve Stimulation product for “COVID Long-Haulers”. But if you dig a little deeper, you start to realize that their advertising is kind of misleading.

Their website has a section titled “COVID Long-Haulers”. It points to a study by Azabou et al. (DOI:10.3389/fmed.2021.625836)

However, if you actually read the study, it doesn’t mention Long COVID, PASC, or Post-COVID syndrome at all. It is a paper about acute COVID.

So here’s what’s going on… the device can be used for people who have both Long COVID and acute COVID. For example, somebody with Long COVID can catch COVID again in the future. Dolphin Neurostim takes that idea, twists it around, and markets the device in a sneaky way that misleads you into thinking that it’s for Long COVID.

Health Canada claims

Here’s what the Dolphin Neurostim product is approved for:

Dolphin Neurostim (Licence No.: 67326)
Instructions for Use for Dolphin Neurostim (NS) applied as a vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) is authorized for emergency use in the acute treatment of adult patients with known or suspected COVID-19. Intended for those:

  • who are experiencing exacerbation of longhaul symptoms and/or asthma-related dyspnea and reduced airflow and
  • for whom approved drug therapies are not tolerated or provide insufficient symptom relief as assessed by their health care provider.

Using non-invasive VNS applied to the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (ABVN) during the COVID-19 pandemic can help with symptom relief.

It’s actually for people with both acute COVID and worsened long-haul symptoms. Apparently it’s also for people whose asthma got worse with acute COVID.

You can find the Health Canada page here:

Hot take

I just feel like this medical device manufacturer is being a little sleazy and taking advantage of sick people who don’t have the energy to read the primary sources.

There are other VNS devices on the market. For example, the Azabou et al. paper referenced on the Dolphin website mentions two different clinical trials (NCT04368156, NCT04382391) that will use gammaCore Sapphire devices.