Certain mouthwash formulas might kill coronavirus in saliva, new UK study suggests

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Researchers from Cardiff University say mouthwashes containing certain active ingredients "eradicated" the coronavirus in lab tests. - Andrey Popov/Dreamstime/TNS

Multiple mouthwashes containing certain active ingredients “eradicated” the coronavirus in lab tests conducted on synthetic saliva, British scientists claim in a new study shared online this week.

Researchers from Cardiff University posted the findings on the preprint bioRxiv server used by the scientific community to solicit peer review ahead of possible publication in a journal.

“During a 30-second exposure, two rinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride and a third with ethanol (and) ethyl lauroyl arginate eliminated live virus,” the scientists said.

The products they tested that contained cetylpyridinium chloride were mouthwashes from the U.K. brand Dentyl.

The mouthwash that combined 23% ethanol with ethyl lauroyl arginate, or LAE, was Listerine Advanced.

The scientists said the use of ethanol alone “had no effect on virus infectivity,” so “the inclusion of essential oils (Listerine Cool Mint) or LAE (Listerine Advanced) appears to be required for optimal efficacy.”

It’s important to note the experiments were conducted using synthetic saliva studied outside the body.

The findings do not offer any evidence mouthwash could prevent infection in the human body, treat the virus or act as a cure.

“Studies are warranted to determine whether these formulations can inactivate virus in the human oropharynx (of a living person), and whether this might impact transmission,” the scientists said.

The scientists also wrote that “It is critical to determine how quickly virus shedding from actively infected cells in both the upper and lower respiratory tract replenishes live virus in the oral cavity after treatment.”

Professor David Thomas of Cardiff University told the BBC more research is necessary.

“Whilst these mouthwashes very effectively eradicate the virus in the laboratory, we need to see if they work in patients and this is the point of our ongoing clinical study,” he said.

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