A new study from Penn State College of Medicine shows that some oral mouthwashes and even a dilute solution of baby shampoo can kill up to 99.9% of coronaviruses.
But you might want to corner the mouthwash market. The experiment was done in the laboratory, not with humans. The Penn State study published in the Journal of Medical Virology also did not use SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because it requires a high biosecurity laboratory. A coronavirus strain with a similar structure was tested.
The virus spread
Coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, use the mouth and nose as the main entry points into the body. The virus can also enter the body through the eyes.
It is spread through aerosol droplets that we give off when we sneeze or cough. For this reason, public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend wearing a mask in public, keeping yourself socially distant, and avoiding large crowds. The question then is whether a mouthwash or the use of a nasal spray can at least help reduce the likelihood of illness.
Penn State’s team, led by Craig Meyers, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, set out to answer that. The researchers rated a 1% solution of baby shampoo, peroxide mouth pain, and mouthwashes. Each solution was tested on human cells at 30 second, one minute and then two minute intervals.
The researchers found that the diluted baby shampoo conditioner “reduced the amount of infectious virus by nearly 99% after a minute of contact and more than 99.9% after two minutes of contact”.
Most of the over-the-counter mouthwashes tested neutralized 90% of the virus, but some could kill 99.9% when in contact for 30 seconds and two minutes. Dr. Meyers told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the study’s results are not intended as a replacement for masks and social distancing, but rather as another layer of protection.
“While we await vaccine development, methods to reduce transmission are needed,” said Dr. Meyers to Science Daily. “The products that we have tested are readily available and are often part of everyday life.”
However, many doctors and scientists are skeptical of the value of mouthwash research. They indicate that you would need to swirl the mouthwash almost continuously to be effective.
“I have no problem using Listerine,” said Angela Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist at Columbia University, The New York Times. “But it’s not an antiviral.”
Even virologists at the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany who used commercially available mouthwashes to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus said using mouthwashes to prevent COVID-19 could be helpful before dental treatment, but not for treatment or for Protect yourself from the virus.
“Gargling with a mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses in the cells, but it could reduce the viral load in the short term if the greatest potential for infection is in the oral cavity and throat,” said Toni Meister, the German team leader, said in a press release . “And this could be useful in certain situations, for example at the dentist or during medical care for Covid-19 patients.”
On Facebook, the WHO made it clear that gargling with mouthwash does not protect people from COVID-19. “There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus,” the post said. “Some brands of mouthwash can remove certain microbes from the saliva in your mouth for a few minutes. However, it doesn’t mean that they will protect you from it [COVID-19]. “
Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist, author, and playwright. His work has been published in national and regional magazines and newspapers.