A group of scientists led by Cardiff University in Wales has called for urgent research into whether readily available mouthwash could be effective in reducing COVID-19 transmission.
The group carried out a review of scientific research in this area—which they published in the journal Function—to assess whether mouthwash could have the potential to reduce transmission in the early stages of infection.
COVID-19 is an enveloped virus with an outer fatty (lipid) membrane—but the researchers said there had so far been “no discussion” about the potential role of damaging this membrane as a possible way to inactivate the virus in the throat.
Moreover, previous studies had shown that agents commonly found in mouthwashes, such as low amounts of ethanol, povidone-iodine and cetylpyridinium, could disrupt the lipid membranes of several enveloped viruses. It is not yet known whether this could also be the case for this new coronavirus.
The researchers assessed existing mouthwash formulations for their potential ability to disrupt the COVID-19 lipid envelope—and suggested that several deserve clinical evaluation.
“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 [COVID-19],” the authors said.