The governor of the Japanese prefecture of Osaka declared in a press conference this week that he would make gargling mouthwash “strictly enforced” to fight the Chinese coronavirus, the nation’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Thursday.
Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura’s declaration that mouthwash can fight coronavirus, which medical experts have disputed, resulted in residents hoarding the product.
On Wednesday, the Osaka prefectural and city governments, in cooperation with the Osaka Habikino Medical Center, released the results of research claiming that gargling mouthwash containing povidone-iodine (PVPI) four times a day reduces the likelihood of testing positive for the virus.
Hirofumi admitted that although the results were not yet backed by scientific experts and the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Law, he wanted the method to be “strictly enforced” among the population.
“Mouthwash that contains PVPI is commercially available, such as Iodine. I want gargling to be strictly enforced,” he told a press conference on Wednesday. “I think we can beat the coronavirus by (gargling). It is likely to contribute to preventing infections from spreading.”
The chairman of the central government’s panel of experts, Shigeru Omi, warned that there is yet not sufficient evidence to make such claims.
“To begin with, there is just not enough information to say whether or not (gargling) is good,” Shigeru said at a government press briefing. “I need more verification before making a judgment.”
The country’s Health Ministry echoed this skepticism, similarly citing a lack of scientific evidence to endorse the method.
“If they recommend (gargling) as being effective against the novel coronavirus, they need to show evidence,” a ministry official said.
Despite the lack of official endorsement, Asahi reports that mouthwash has been flying off the shelves as hoarders buy the protect with the idea of immunizing themselves. This has also led to other concerns given that excessive iodine can cause unwanted side effects in pregnant women and patients with thyroid ailments.
People from countries around the world have promised supposed miracle cures or immunizations against the coronavirus without scientific backing. Examples include Chinese state media touting the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine, Iranians killing themselves by ingesting toxic methanol, and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro falsely claiming that Cuban treatments experts decried as extremely dangerous were working against the virus.
Scientists are working in teams around the world on the development of a vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus, though no vaccine currently exists against any virus in that family. Fierce debate is also ongoing on potential treatments for coronavirus patients.