Can mouthwash protect against coronavirus? Experts discuss results of viral study

Before you stockpile Listerine, take the findings of a recent study with a grain of salt — at least until the results are replicated in a human clinical trial, several experts told Fox News. 

A new study conducted by researchers with Penn State College of Medicine and recently published in the Journal of Medical Virology found that mouthwash and oral rinses can “inactivate” human coronaviruses, with the study authors hypothesizing that these common dental hygiene products could possibly help to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus itself. 

“We were clear that this is not a cure … but that the data suggest a strong potential to lower transmission," lead study author Craig Meyers, a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynecology, told Fox News. (iStock)

“We were clear that this is not a cure … but that the data suggest a strong potential to lower transmission,” lead study author Craig Meyers, a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynecology, told Fox News. (iStock)

Though the study’s authors didn’t test the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, when conducting their research, the human coronavirus they did analyze  — a common cold-causing strain known as 229e — is “genetically similar”  to SARS-CoV-2, leading the study authors to argue the results could be comparable. 

For the study, researchers tested various oral and nasopharyngeal rinses — which included a 1% solution of baby shampoo, a neti pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers, and mouthwashes, namely Listerine Antiseptic, Orajel Antiseptic Rinse, and Crest Pro‐Health, among others — to determine how well they inactivated the 229e strain. 


Human volunteers were not used; the 229e coronaviruses were grown in human liver cells in the lab before being immersed in the various solutions for 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes. 

The baby shampoo solution, “which is often used by head and neck doctors to rinse the sinuses,” the researchers noted in a news release regarding the findings, was particularly effective; the solution inactivated “greater than 99.9% of human coronavirus after a two-minute contact time,” they said. 

The mouthwash and oral rinses tested were also effective, they found: “Many inactivated greater than 99.9% of virus after only 30 seconds of contact time and some inactivated 99.99% of the virus after 30 seconds.” 

Lead study author Craig Meyers, a distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and obstetrics and gynecology, said the results show the amount of virus (viral load) in an infected person’s mouth could be reduced by using these common over-the-counter products, possibly helping to reduce the spread of the novel virus in specific instances, like when caring for a COVID patient or visiting the dentist. 


But some experts who were not involved in the study warned the findings shouldn’t be over-interpreted, emphasizing the need for clinical trials to show similar results in humans (in fact, several have already begun recruiting.) 

Additionally, while mouthwash could theoretically reduce the viral load in the oral cavity and throat for a short period of time, the dental product cannot stop the virus from replicating in cells within the body, noted many of the experts who spoke to Fox News. 

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San Antonio mayor to discuss Space Force, military medicine in Pentagon visit

Mayor Ron Nurenberg will spend Thursday in Washington talking with top Pentagon officials about bolstering the military’s many medical assets here, as well as the city’s hope to serve as the new home of U.S. Space Command.

Ron Nirenberg et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.

© Bob Owen /San Antonio Express-News

Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.

He’ll meet with the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., as well as Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, U.S. Space Force’s chief of space operations, and the head of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place.

The goal: Convince those leaders that San Antonio, “Military City, U.S.A.,” is ready to host Space Command, support other new Air Force operations here and help expand military medicine missions.

“I wanted them to know San Antonio is going to show up, even when the world’s on pause,” Nirenberg said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike the annual SA to DC lobbying trip to Washington, this one will be a small affair, with Nirenberg bringing only two others with him. Nirenberg called this trip a “precision exercise.”

“If SA to DC is sending in the cavalry, this trip is the air strike,” he said.

In setting up the meetings, Pentagon officials asked that the mayor keep the group to just three people because they were to meet with major decision-makers. The others with him retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, director of the city’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, and Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president/CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

The big-ticket items on the agenda include Space Command and the Defense Health Agency, but there will be other stops. Nirenberg will talk with the undersecretary of the Army, and the Department of Defense’s office for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.

The mayor’s office said Nirenberg will have specific “asks” or points of information for ongoing or future initiatives from the city or local military community that add value to Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense. The trip will encourage senior Pentagon leaders to consider keeping San Antonio at the top of their list to either relocate missions or activate new ones.

San Antonio made it through the initial cut as the Air Force seeks a permanent headquarters for the Space Command, now based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Governors from 26 states nominated 100 cities to be the command’s new home.

It was established as the 11th combat command in August 2019 and the Air Force is now in the evaluation phase of a selection process that aims to pick finalists in mid-to late-November. A decision is expected in January, and the new headquarters will take about six years to put in place.

Nirenberg has said San Antonio is a natural fit for Space Command because of its quality of life, a skilled

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U.S. FDA meeting on COVID-19 vaccines to discuss criteria for emergency nod

(Reuters) – The U.S. health regulator’s criteria for allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine and plans to monitor its safety after a regulatory go-ahead, are among the topics to be discussed at a closely watched meeting scheduled for Thursday.

Details posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website showed the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has formulated plans to monitor safety and effectiveness of a vaccine even after the FDA allows for its emergency use.

The FDA panel would make recommendations at the end of the meeting, according to the agenda, but did not specify details.

The agenda also showed no specific application for a vaccine’s emergency use would be discussed at the meeting. The agency previously said it would hold multiple meetings in the future to discuss emergency use of a particular vaccine.

Pfizer Inc <PFE.N>, Moderna Inc <MRNA.O> and AstraZeneca <AZN.L> could provide early analyses of late-stage trials of their experimental vaccines this month or the next, following which regulators will consider regulatory authorization.

The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they would be presenting at the meeting.

The FDA earlier this month told coronavirus vaccine developers it wants at least two months of safety data before authorizing emergency use, a requirement that likely pushes any U.S. vaccine availability past the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The meeting, which is open to the public for comments, is another example of steps health regulators are taking to assuage public distrust related to coronavirus vaccines, that are being developed at unprecedented speed.

There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus, except two in Russia that are yet to finish Phase 3 clinical testing.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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