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Doctors push back against GOP lawmaker’s claim that gargling Listerine kills COVID

December 13, 2021

Doctors and medical experts are pushing back against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) latest remarks suggesting Listerine as a way to combat COVID. During a town hall meeting held on Wednesday, December 8, Johnson insisted that the popular mouthwash has been proven to kill the virus.

“Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” Johnson said, per a recording of his remarks. “If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”

After Johnson’s town hall remarks began circulating on social media, he also shared the link to a study on titled, “Use of an antiviral mouthwash as a barrier measure in the SARS-CoV-2 transmission in adults with asymptomatic to mild COVID-19: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind controlled trial.”

Per The Post that particular study determined “mouthwash provides ‘modest benefits’ in lowering viral loads in saliva.” However, it is important to note that the study was based on 176 participants who tested positive for the virus but were either “asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms.”

Now, according to The Washington Post, health experts are pushing back to offer clarity about Johnson’s remarks specifying that even “though mouthwash can partially kill off parts of the coronavirus in a person’s mouth, most infections occur through the nose.”

“Even if gargling kills some of the virus, it won’t be able to clean the nasal area, nor the viruses that’s already penetrated deeper into the body,” said Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious-disease researcher for Korea University.

“We’re looking at how [mouthwash] actually works on the virus itself rather than what it does to the body. I think those are two separate questions,” Nicholas Rowan, an ear, nose and throat surgeon and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told The Washington Post last year.

Even Listerine has a statement on its website refuting claims like the on Johnson made. Listerine “is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label,” the website notes emphasizes.

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