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Gargling solution in Japan sold out after claims of anti-virus effect

This article is more than 12 months old

TOKYO: Japanese drugstores were stripped bare of gargling solution by yesterday, a day after the governor of the western prefecture of Osaka suggested it could help fight the coronavirus. It triggered panicked buying reminiscent of the early days of mask shortages.

Hundreds of thousands of people posted pictures of emptied shelves on Twitter, accompanied by handwritten "Out of Stock" notices, as they canvassed suggestions on how to acquire the coveted antiseptic.

"Anyone else having trouble buying gargling medicine? I'm coming to four misses now," wrote one user, @shotaro-1117, who posted images of four cleaned-out shelves.

On Tuesday, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said a study showed a smaller viral load in the saliva of 41 patients with mild symptoms after regular gargling with a medicine infused with povidone-iodine solution than in those who had not.

"Perhaps we can even overcome the coronavirus with gargling medicine," he told a mid-afternoon news conference, speaking of the study on those convalescing in regional hotels which was released by an Osaka hospital.

Some experts were sceptical, however.

"I think these kinds of claims might even lead to a high number of false negatives for PCR tests," pharmacist and medical writer Shuichi Aoshima wrote on Twitter, adding that tests after use of the germicide would register lower levels of the virus.

"It's the same as dripping povidone-iodine onto a virus sample."

Meanwhile, the country's top doctors' association said yesterday that Japanese holidaymakers should refrain from domestic travel and regional governments should act independently to contain a resurgence of coronavirus infections. - REUTERS

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