Povidone‐iodine gargle: A prophylactic measure to impede COVID-19 transmission |
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Povidone‐iodine gargle: A prophylactic measure to impede COVID-19 transmission

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Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID‐19, caused by the SARS‐COV‐2 virus, has crossed the 33 million case mark across the world, with the death toll surpassing 1 million (as on September 28, 2020).1

Human‐to‐Human transmission occurs through close contact with an infected person. Infection can also occur from surfaces contaminated with droplets or secretions. Respiratory pathogens adhere to the oropharyngeal mucosa and colonize and cause upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).2

Given the fact that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, it is reasonable to evaluate if the use of a prophylactic mouth rinse with virucidal activity can impede the spread of infection.

Povidone‐iodine (PVP‐I) products, as mouthwashes and throat sprays, have been shown to have a prophylactic effect on the transmission of SARS‐CoV during previous outbreak. PVP-I products were shown to have strong virucidal activity against SARS-CoV.3

SARS‐CoV‐2 virus is closely related to SARS‐CoV, and the viral load in the oropharynx in asymptomatic patients with SARS‐CoV‐2 infection appears to be as high as that in symptomatic patients.4

Reducing the viral load in the oropharynx with adequate oral prophylactic measures seems worth exploring.

A study assessed nasal and oral antiseptic formulations of PVP-I for virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2. PVP-I nasal and oral rinse formulations from 1-5% concentrations as well as controls were evaluated for virucidal potential. SARS-CoV-2 was exposed to the test compound for 60 seconds. All the tested concentrations of nasal and oral rinse formulations could completely inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nasal and oral PVP-I formulations were thus shown to inactive the SARS-CoV-2 virus at different concentrations. Nasal and oral decontamination with PVP-I formulations thus seem to have potential in limiting the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.5

PVP-I mouthwash or gargle thus appears to be a promising approach to inactivate the virus, thus checking the spread of COVID-19.


  1. Available from: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
  2. Kanagalingam J, Feliciano R, Hah JH, et al. Practical use of povidone‐iodine antiseptic in the maintenance of oral health and in the prevention and treatment of common oropharyngeal infections. Int J Clin Pract. 2015 Nov;69(11):1247-56.
  3. Kariwa H, Fujii N, Takashima I. Inactivation of SARS Coronavirus by Means of Povidone-Iodine, Physical Conditions and Chemical Reagents. Dermatology 2006;212:119–123.
  4. Zou L, Ruan F, Huang M, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Upper Respiratory Specimens of Infected Patients. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1177-1179.
  5. Pelletier J, Tessema B, Westover J, et al. In Vitro Efficacy of Povidone-Iodine Nasal And Oral Antiseptic Preparations Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Available from: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.25.20110239v1.
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