Mouthwashes may reduce risk of coronavirus transmission

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The virus that causes the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), SARS-COV-2, may be inactivated using certain commercially available mouthwashes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The researchers tested eight mouthwashes with different ingredients that are available in pharmacies or drugstores in Germany. They mixed each mouthwash with virus particles and an interfering substance, which was intended to recreate the effect of saliva in the mouth. The mixture was then shaken for 30 seconds to simulate the effect of gargling. They then used Vero E6 cells, which are particularly receptive to Sars-Cov-2, to determine the virus titer. To assess the efficacy of the mouthwashes, the researchers also treated the virus suspensions with cell culture medium instead of the mouthwash before adding them to the cell culture.

All of the tested preparations reduced the initial virus titer. Three mouthwashes reduced it to such an extent that no virus could be detected after an exposure time of 30 seconds. Whether this effect is confirmed in clinical practice and how long it lasts must be investigated in further studies, the researchers said.

A review of laboratory results in clinical trials is pending. The authors also said mouthwashes are not suitable for treating COVID-19.  

"Gargling with a mouthwash cannot inhibit the production of viruses in the cell, but could reduce the viral load in the short term where the greatest potential for infection comes from, namely in the oral cavity and throat,” said Toni Meister, PhD, lead author of the study, in a statement. “This could be useful in certain situations, such as at the dentist or during the medical care of COVID-19 patients.”

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