Povidone-iodine to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection |
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Povidone-iodine to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection

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SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus, known to cause Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), surfaced in Wuhan, China towards the end of the year 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020.

While there is lack of an effective treatment strategy for COVID-19, preventive measures are being recommended by various leading organizations, including the WHO. A paper published in Lancet Infectious Diseases noted that high viral loads in samples obtained from the upper respiratory tract pointed to a high risk of transmission during the early days following the onset of symptoms.1 It appears that asymptomatic patients can also transmit the infection.2 Diminishing the viral load thus seems to be a potential strategy to check the transmission of this viral illness.

Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) has long been in use as a broad‐spectrum microbicidal agent which can cause inactivation of bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses. It has potential virucidal activity and has even been shown to have the highest virucidal activity among several antiseptics, including chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), benzalkonium chloride (BAC), benzethonium chloride (BEC), and alkyldiaminoethyl‐glycine hydrochloride.2 PVP‐I gargle, has been shown in vitro, to inactivate adenovirus, mumps, rotavirus, poliovirus (types 1 and 3), coxsackie virus, rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, rubella, measles, influenza, and human immunodeficiency virus. This antiseptic formulation is therefore a broad-spectrum virucidal agent that inactivates both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. The agent is also effective against MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.2

PVP-I has been shown to have virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2 as well. PVP-I products, including gargle and mouth wash, were shown by Anderson et al,3 to attain ≥ 99.99% virucidal activity against the virus. The agent was reported to have a rapid virucidal activity against this virus.

Working out ways to minimize the viral titres in saliva and nasal mucosa from COVID-19 patients could possibly curb the transmission of the disease.4 PVP-I could be used to prevent the spread of virus-containing droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected person.

PVP-I could reduce the viral load in the nasal and oral mucosa of COVID-19 patients and limit the risk of transmission.4

Use of PVP-I products for oral decontamination, along with following distancing measures, frequent handwashing and use of masks could go a long way in preventing the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


  1. Lescure F-X, Bouadma L, Nguyen D et al. Clinical and virological data of the first cases of COVID-19 in Europe: a case series. Lancet Infectious Diseases 2020;20(6):P697-706.
  2. Mendoza L. Prevention Of Covid-19 Infection With Povidone-Iodine. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3589404.
  3. Anderson DE, Sivalingam V, Kang AEZ, et al. Povidone-Iodine Demonstrates Rapid In Vitro Virucidal Activity Against SARS-CoV-2, The Virus Causing COVID-19 Disease. Infect Dis Ther. 2020; 1-7.
  4. Kirk-Bayley J, Sunkaraneni VS, Challacombe SJ. The use of Povidone Iodine nasal spray and mouthwash during the current COVID-19 pandemic may reduce cross infection and protect healthcare workers. SSRN. 2020. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3563092.
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