While scientists across the globe were scrambling to contain the spread of coronavirus, activewear brand Lorna Jane was claiming a pair of leggings could protect you from it. The brand landed a hefty fine for its bogus claims.

The Australia-based clothing manufacturer launched what it said was clothing featuring exclusive technology earlier this month, alleging that the special “water-based, non-toxic mist’ with which its leggings and tops had been treated could kill bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19.

Medical experts advised would-be buyers not to fall for the company’s claims, and the public ridiculed the brand for cynically exploiting coronavirus fears.

Quick update on the best way your Lorna Jane leggings can protect from COVID-19: pic.twitter.com/TMOf39s9yG

Marketing therapeutic claims is something that must be taken very seriously. When it comes to #COVID__19 or any health issue be careful what you read and make sure to heed expert medical advice, including from your GP. Expert advice matters. https://t.co/DRRPTKERok

The outcry has forced Lorna Jane to remove all ‘anti-virus’ wording from its website, leaving just ‘anti-bacterial’ in the description of the clothing line. The retailer later said it had had no intention to mislead anyone or to make money from Covid-19, and that it had started working on the protective technology before the pandemic.

However, that defense did not spare it from receiving an almost AU$40,000 (nearly $28,000) fine.On Friday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration at the Australian Department of Health said it had issued three infringement notices for “alleged unlawful advertising” that implied the activewear was effective against the deadly virus.

“This kind of advertising could have detrimental consequences for the Australian community, creating a false sense of security and leading people to be less vigilant about hygiene and social distancing,” Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, the health department’s Deputy Secretary, said in statement.

While most Twitter users welcomed the decision, some noted that the fine was “laughable” for such a profitable brand.

Now let’s hope the @acccgovau get stuck into them as well. Less than a $40,000 fine seems laughable for this type of claim and advertising in 2020 for a company of Lorna Jane’s size/turnover. https://t.co/M11F9qSocO

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