Republican Senator Rebuked by Health Experts for Claiming Mouthwash Can Kill COVID-19

There's nothing wrong with securing good breath, but mouthwash users shouldn't expect a miracle cure when doing their daily gargling, experts say.

A GOP senator is pictured trying to speak.
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Image via Getty/Samuel Corum

A GOP senator is pictured trying to speak.

This week a Republican senator said that gargling with mouthwash “has been proven to kill the coronavirus.”

During a town hall meeting on Wednesday, per the Washington Post, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson—who has a well-documented history of assisting in the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories—made the claim.

“Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” Johnson said. “If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”

Following the delivery of these remarks, Johnson returned to matters of mouthwash on Twitter, though multiple experts cited in the Post report have pointed out that Johnson appears to be missing a key aspect of how the bulk of COVID-19 infections are made possible. For example, Kim Woo-Joo—an expert on infectious diseases from Korea University—noted that “even if” gargling killed a portion of the virus, it is not capable of cleaning the nasal area “nor the viruses [that have] already penetrated deeper into the body.”

Mouthwash brand Listerine, meanwhile, has a whole section on their website dedicated to pandemic concerns. In short, Listerine antiseptic “is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label.”

Of course, the best path forward in terms of preventing infection is to simply get vaccinated (and boostered). If you still haven’t done so, the process remains free and easy (and safe) and can be initiated via this link

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