Virus Protector is a Japanese product composed of a vinyl pouch that you hang by a strap around your neck. When unsealed it claims to “remove bacteria, virus and odors from the surrounding area creating a decontamination space.”

On February 18 the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan issued a warning for people to stop using Virus Protector brand products immediately.

The reason? Apparently, Virus Protector had considered humans in the same family of germs and bad smells and set out to eliminate us as well.

The agency claims there is a severe chemical burn risk when using them, caused by the chlorine related ingredients. According to the makers the chemical components of Virus Protector are “Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine components), citric acid, oxalic acid, sulfate, water-absorbing material.”

This concoction, when exposed to moisture such as sweat, can create a potent acid strong enough to cause a chemical burn even through clothing. A child in Chiba Prefecture suffered “serious burns” from a Virus Protector on 2 February and less severe cases were also reported in other parts of Japan.

About 700,000 Virus Protectors were manufactured in China and had been on sale since 25 January by Japanese company Daitoku Corporation whom the Consumer Affairs Agency has urged to recall.  As of this writing Amazon has removed its Virus Protector pages and Rakuten is listing them as “sold out.”

People on the internet, well known for their tolerance of other countries, have pointed out the fact it was made in China.  However, this seems more like a design flaw than manufacturing.

This very design flaw had also impressed netizens with its lack of foresight, expressed in comments such as “it reacts to sweat… good thing we found this out before it gets hot” and “so if I clean the bathroom with one these, will it kill me?”

The irony of a “virus killing” necklace also killing humans was not lost on folks either: “Well, it sure is able to remove the greatest virus to Earth, humans.”

So, magic chemical pouches don’t work and gargling is off the table?  I guess I’m back to washing my hands like some barbarian for adequate cold and flu protection.

Source: Consumer Affairs Agency, Asahi Shinbun via Itai News (Japanese)