Mouthwashes may help to inactivate coronavirus

Posted Oct 27, 2020 by Tim Sandle
A new study into coronavirus prevention measures finds that certain mouthwashes and other forms of oral rinses may inactivate human coronaviruses and hence significantly lower the viral load.
A 3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2  the virus that causes COVID-19 -- in front of a 3D prin...
A 3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 -- in front of a 3D print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle
Handout, National Institutes of Health/AFP
The research comes from Penn State University and it finds that some oral health solutions could inactivate human coronaviruses. This is in terms of the products having some ability to reduce the viral load in the mouth, following an infection. In turn this may assist with reducing the transfer of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The researches looked at various mouthwashes and products designed to clear sinuses. The data showed that a 1 percent baby shampoo solution, which is sometimes used to rinse sinuses, was successful in inactivating greater than 99.9 percent of human coronavirus following a two-minute contact time. By contact time, this is the time that the solution remains in contact with the sinuses or within the mouth.
With different mouthwash products, these also proved effective at inactivating the virus. Most of the tested products inactivated greater than 99.9 percent of virus following a 30 second contact time. The products assessed included Listerine.
It is important to note that these studies were conducted using human cells infected with the virus under laboratory conditions; further studies are required to assess the effectivity on actual people.
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The reason why most products were effective was due to the relative fragility of the outer envelope of the virus. The objective of the envelope is to protect the genetic material in the virus life-cycle when the virus travels between host cells.
In terms of what can be drawn from the findings in terms of practical application, there appears merit in those who test positive for the coronavirus to use a mouthwash when they return home (and then on a regular basis). By doing so this could reduce the transmission rates by up to half.
The next stage of the research will seek to identify specific ingredients in oral care products and explore further the mechanisms of viral inactivation in relation to different product groups.
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The research has been published in the Journal of Medical Virology, and the paper is titled "Lowering the transmission and spread of human coronavirus."