This story was republished on January 14, 2022 to make it free for all readers
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said this week that mouthwash is a way to protect against COVID-19, but the manufacturer of Listerine and medical experts say studies of the idea have not yet concluded that it is a proven antidote.
Johnson said at a town hall event on Wednesday that a “standard gargle” of mouthwash “has been proven to kill coronavirus” or may reduce viral replication to help protect against a severe increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Why not try all these things?” he said, including mouthwash on a list of alternatives to COVID-19 vaccines and face masks, such as taking vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc supplements.
In a statement to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson said he did not suggest vitamins or mouthwash were a substitute for COVID-19 vaccines.
“I did not say that taking vitamins using mouthwash would be a substitute for the vaccine if you choose to get one. There are several studies that say mouthwash can reduce viral load,” Johnson said. “Even Dr. Fauci said, ‘I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself by taking vitamin D supplements.’ I continue to be amazed at the resistance to anything that can reduce the severity of COVID. -19 symptoms. “
Johnson regularly promotes unproven drugs against COVID-19 and expresses doubts about documented ways to combat the pandemic as vaccines. In this case, the effect of Listerine mouthwash on disrupting the virus is being investigated, but its manufacturer and medical experts said the research did not produce the conclusion Johnson suggested to his constituents on Wednesday.
“We are aware of several ongoing, independent clinical trials in which LISTERINE® is being evaluated in patients with COVID-19. However, the currently available data are not sufficient to support a conclusion that the use of LISTERINE® mouthwash is useful against COVID-19 .19 virus, “said a statement from Johnson & Johnson shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Our understanding of the course of COVID-19 disease transmission continues to evolve. In general, more research is needed to understand whether the use of mouthwash can affect viral transmission, exposure, viral penetration, viral load and ultimately affect meaningful clinical results or have a public health impact. “
Johnson & Johnson officials said they would “consider further investment in laboratory and clinical trials with trusted partners who play an important role in understanding the interaction between oral care and the COVID-19 virus in the mouth.”
Ben Weston, an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Chief Health Policy Adviser for Milwaukee County, said mouthwash kills bacteria in a person’s mouth, but “it does not have the same effect on the rest of your body.”
The Covid-19 virus penetrates through the nasal passages and can ravage your lungs and cause difficulty breathing. It can damage your heart and cause scarring and impaired heart function. It can damage the lining of your blood vessels and cause coagulation. It can damage your kidneys, leading to “long-term organ failure. It can damage your reproductive system, leading to poor birth outcomes and erectile dysfunction. The list goes on,” Weston said. “We need to focus on prevention that works. COVID vaccines are safe, they are effective and they are free.”
Weston said vaccines make it less likely to be infected in the first place, less likely to transmit the virus to another, less likely to experience serious illness after infection, and less likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus.
Ajay Sethi, an associate professor of public health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said no one discourages the use of the drugs Johnson suggests, but the public should know that they have not been proven effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection.
“Things like home remedies, vitamins and supplements, new diets have been advertised and used by people in our society for decades, even centuries, for all sorts of ailments. No one advises against their use, but they do not provide tangible benefits against Covid, and they are not a substitute for vaccination, “Sethi said.
‘Not suitable for any virus’
Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer for public health at the University of Washington, said Johnson’s proposal to turn to vitamins and mouthwash “is not appropriate for any virus.”
Our recommendations are that people get vaccinated (3 doses, get a booster as soon as they are eligible), wear a mask (good quality mask and wear it properly), keep an eye on the distance, avoid gathering and wash hands , “Mokdad said in the mail.
In his comments Wednesday, Johnson criticized the National Institutes of Health for focusing on the recommendation to be vaccinated against the virus.
Patrick Remington, a former epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s preventative medicine residency program, said the NIH relies on documented treatments.
“Simply put, the NIH and other researchers set a high bar to prove that a treatment is effective. Studies performed in the laboratory or on animals, or clinical anecdotes, play an important role in the research process, leading to hypotheses, which are then tested. , controlled trials, “Remington said.
“It would confuse my mind if we skipped this critical step and instead practiced medicine only based on sensations and best guesses. We have to be patient and let the scientific process unfold and make sure we do no harm first.”
Sethi noted that 200 million Americans have chosen to take the advice of the CDC, the NIH, and several medical and scientific experts to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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