May 19th, 2020
Vivoo admits in the YouTube video above that an app asking you to pee on a stick and then take a photo for urinalysis might sound “a bit weird.” But the company says the benefits — which include the app’s purported abilities to track immunity, as well as liver and kidney health (among five other “parameters”), and to provide immediate “nutrition and lifestyle advice unique to your body” — outweigh the awkwardness of the proposal.
However, after receiving a consumer tip, TINA.org looked into the marketing of the so-called “wellness assistant,” which starts at $9.90 a month, and that’s when things got really weird. There’s a lot of ground to cover so let’s break it down into parts, starting with the app’s diagnostic claims:
- Vivoo asserts in marketing materials (such as the video above) that the app can tell you whether you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). Yet, in an FAQ at the bottom of its website, Vivoo says it doesn’t diagnose “diseases or conditions.” Which is it?
- Based on the amount of white blood cells (leukocytes) in the urine, which Vivoo says can indicate a kidney or urinary tract infection, Vivoo gives the urine sample an immunity score from 0 to 10. However, “tracking” immunity is not as simple as Vivoo makes it sound. The reality is the immune system is both complex and pervasive with immune cells located throughout the body. “The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity,” writes Harvard Medical School. According to immunologists, there’s no single measure of how well your immune system is working. That includes testing urine for leukocytes. Indeed, in response to a request for the scientific studies supporting Vivoo’s immunity-tracking claims, Vivoo CEO Miray Tayfun instead linked to, among other things, a Wikipedia entry for “Urine test strips.”
- Vivoo’s recommendations that follow its urinalysis raise some red flags. In cases in which users show signs of infection, Tayfun said, “we recommend our users to support their immune system with a better lifestyle.” She offered often-cited examples such as changes in diet, exercise and sleep, but made no mention of the need for antibiotics, which is what medical doctors typically prescribe to treat a UTI.
- In its user manual, Vivoo claims its product, a Class I medical device, is “FDA registered.” But the “FDA” part of the claim is the FDA’s logo, which violates the first line of the agency’s logo policy: “The FDA logo is for the official use of the FDA and not for use on private sector materials.” (For more on what “FDA registered” actually means, click here.)
In the end, peeing on a stick might be able to tell you some of what’s in your urine, but not much else. If you are expecting to gain a full understanding of your health from this wellness app, you might be disappointed with the results.
Find more of our coverage on wellness here.