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THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Regardless of what you may have heard, mouthwash won't protect you from COVID-19, experts say.
A new study had suggested that mouthwash might incapacitate the cold virus, and that it "may provide an additional level of protection against" the new coronavirus.
But be cautious when interpreting the findings, experts told The New York Times. Not only did the study not test for COVID-19, but it also didn't test if mouthwash affects how the virus is spread.
"I don't have a problem with using Listerine," Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, told the Times. "But it's not an antiviral."
The lab study, published last month in the Journal of Medical Virology, only looked at the coronavirus 229E, which causes common colds -- not the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
Although the viruses are in the same family, they aren't interchangeable, Rasmussen told the newspaper.
Also, the tests were not done on actual people. The human mouth, full of nooks and crannies and lots of chemicals, is more complicated than a laboratory dish. Nothing should be considered conclusive "unless human studies are performed," Dr. Maricar Malinis, an infectious disease expert at Yale University, told the Times.
Rasmussen added that viruses inside cells are shielded from the fast-acting chemicals found in these products. "It's not like your cells get infected and then they secrete a bunch of virus and they're done," she said. "Infected cells are constantly making more virus."
Relying on mouthwash or a nasal rinse to kill a virus is as futile as trimming the tops of weeds, but not the roots, and expecting the weeds to disappear, she added.
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