A recent scientific review speculates that mouthwash could inhibit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

If clinical trials prove effective, the findings, published in the journal Function, may provide another way to reduce the spread of the disease until scientists can produce an effective, publicly available vaccine.

Since the sudden emergence and rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, scientists and researchers have focussed on the development of a vaccine that could help protect people vulnerable to COVID-19.

However, scientists have estimated that an effective, publicly available vaccine could take at least 12–18 months to develop.

In the meantime, some scientists are focusing on ways to reduce the rate of infection to controllable levels that will not overwhelm hospital intensive care units.

Other scientists have investigated the development of effective treatments that may reduce the transmission rate of the virus.

One area of research involves disrupting the way the virus can take over a cell of a host as it replicates itself.

The authors of the current study wanted to see if alcohol-based mouthwashes — which come into contact with a person’s throat, a key site for viral load, and a source of viral transmission — could, in theory, inhibit the transmission of the virus or reduce its severity.

Although there is little scientific literature exploring the effects of low-alcohol concentrations on viral envelopes, the authors drew on research that looked at the effects on mammalian cells.

The virus develops its envelope from these cells. So, it may be possible to compare the effects on these cells to the potential effects on the viral envelope.

After studying the literature, the researchers found that there was good reason to suppose that some low-alcohol products would, in theory, be able to disrupt the viral envelope of SARS-CoV-2.

The authors make it clear that their research is speculative. Researchers need to carry out more research to discover whether mouthwashes will affect the new coronavirus.

Nonetheless, this work shows that, in principle, this is a valuable area to study. This type of research is made urgent by the current global public health crisis.

Medical reference: medicalnewstoday