Press conference sparks immediate panic buying across the country.

As countries around the world continue to fight against a pandemic without a current cure or vaccine, people are keeping their ears open for ways to fend off the virus should it ever come their way.

So when the Governor of Osaka held a press conference today highlighting the purported efficacy of Japanese mouthwash against coronavirus, shelves around the country were cleared of the products straight away.

During the press conference Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura explained to the media that a small study of roughly 40 mild or asymptomatic patients who had tested positive for coronavirus displayed decreased levels of the virus in their saliva after gargling with mouthwash containing povidone-iodine.

The mouthwash, which has a bactericidal effect, was administered to patients four times a day over a period from June to July. On the fourth day of treatment, nine percent of treated patients tested positive to the virus on a PCR test, compared to 40 percent of patients who didn’t gargle with the mouthwash.

▼ The governor points to the positive results of the study.

Osaka Prefecture now wants to carry out a larger study of 1,000 mild and asymptomatic patients to verify the effects of gargling. Akifumi Matsuyama, Director of the Research Center for Next-Generation Drug Development at the Osaka Prefectural Hospital Organization Osaka Habikino Medical Centre, said a larger study was important as “reducing the amount of virus in an infected individual’s saliva has the effect of reducing infections among people at home.”

Despite the current limited study, Governor Yoshimura was keen to share the results with the public, saying, “If people gargle with this type of mouthwash, we may find that the number of people who test positive for coronavirus will decrease.” He went on to add, “I can’t say that it will cure coronavirus, but I expect it can help prevent the spread of infection in places where cases have been increasing.”

To help the public identify the types of mouthwash that contain povidone-iodine, the governor had a lineup of example bottles in front of him.

▼ One of the bottles was a popular brand called Meiji Isojin Gargle Medicine.

This brand of mouthwash is often used by people in Japan at the first sign of a sore throat, although many are known to gargle with it as a preventative measure during cold and flu season.

Within minutes of the governor’s press conference, Meiji shares jumped more than four percent and stores across the country sold out of all types of mouthwash containing povidone-iodine.

▼ “Gargle medicine containing povidone-iodine has sold out (Isojin etc.)

Some stores were quick to put a “one-bottle-per-household” policy in place to prevent resellers buying up all their stock.

The Governor of Osaka has become known around Japan for his shoot-from-the-hip approach to politics, especially when it comes to communicating with the public during the pandemic. He became one of the first officials to urge residents to refrain from travelling between prefectures, and divided public opinion by leaking an official document that showed projected numbers of coronavirus cases for Osaka.

While the governor has been to quick to sing the praises of gargling with mouthwash, Director Matsuyama also told reporters that in some cases, the amount of virus in saliva may increase again about an hour after gargling. He also warned that gargling over and over again may hurt the throat so he asked people to exercise caution.

So if you’re thinking of rushing out to buy mouthwash containing povidone-iodine, commonly sold overseas as Betadine, be sure to avoid panic-buying it like toilet paper and don’t forget to follow the advice of Director Matsuyama to not overdo it on the gargling.

Source: NHK
Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!