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Study to find out whether mouthwash can reduce spread of Covid-19

Researchers will test whether or not gargling with Dentyl mouthwash can help prevent the spread of Covid-19 amid claims it could fight the virus. 

Covid-19 patients at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales will take part in the research to find out if it has the potential to reduce the levels of the virus in saliva.

SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus behind the pandemic which has killed 800,000 people — is an enveloped virus with an outer fatty (lipid) membrane.

Studies have suggested agents found in mouthwash – such as low amounts of ethanol – could disrupt the membranes of other lipid viruses.

For instance, researchers say iodine mouthwashes have proved very effective against SARS and MERS, two diseases caused by similar coronaviruses. 

Dentyl — which contains the anti-microbial cetylpyridinium chloride — is the only UK mouthwash brand to take part in the 12-week study.

Professor David Thomas is the lead author of the study, titled: ‘The measurement of mouthwash anti-viral activity against Covid-19’.

He said: ‘We are very keen to start this much-needed clinical trial as our review of the literature indicated that we need to look deeper into the possible positive impact that mouthwashes may play on the transmission of Covid-19.

‘We believe this is an exciting opportunity to determine whether a compound that can inactivate an enveloped virus in a test tube may work in humans, actively shedding the virus in the mouth and throat.’

Jerry Randall, chief executive of Venture Life, Dentyl’s parent company, said: ‘We are excited at the prospect that this long-standing, well-known mouthwash product could help in the fight against Covid-19.’

The launch of the study comes after a group of scientists in May called for urgent research into the use of readily available mouthwash to reduce the spread of the virus.

Publishing their review in the Function journal, the authors wrote: ‘We highlight that already published research on other enveloped viruses, including coronaviruses, directly supports the idea that further research is needed on whether oral rinsing could be considered as a potential way to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.’

Lead author Professor Valerie O’Donnell, co-director of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, said at the time: ‘Safe use of mouthwash – as in gargling – has so far not been considered by public health bodies in the UK.’

She added: ‘This is an under-researched area of major clinical need – and we hope that research projects will be quickly mobilised to further evaluate this.’

The completed research will be peer reviewed before it is published in around six months’ time.

It comes after experts last month claimed iodine mouthwash could destroy Covid-19 and prevent or reduce its effects if someone is already sick.

Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain said the specific type of mouthwash can have ‘significant virucidal activity’. 

Testing on a small group of patients with Covid-19, they found using the mouthwash reduced the number of viruses that were in their saliva.

Lower viral loads — the number of viruses circulating through the body — have been linked to milder symptoms and faster recovery.

Iodine mouthwash is stronger than popular shop-bought products such as Listerine or Colgate, which typically don’t contain the antiseptic chemical.

Instead, they are more commonly used by dentists. One brand that contains iodine is Betadine.

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