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Gargling Solution Touted as a Coronavirus Cure Empties Store Shelves in Japan

August 5, 2020, 06.08 PM

TOKYO, – Shoppers cleared the shelves of Japanese drugstores following a suggestion by Osaka's Governor of a gargling solution that could be a coronavirus cure.

Panicked buyers in stores were reminiscent of the early days when Japan faced mask shortages.

Twitter posts were accompanied by pictures of emptied shelves with handwritten “Out of Stock” notices.

The notices included suggestions on how to acquire the antiseptic believed to be a coronavirus cure.

Read also: Indonesian Agriculture Ministry Upbeat on Its Anti-Coronavirus Eucalyptus Products

"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.

As the Japanese official spoke, shares of Meiji Holdings Co , which sells a popular medicine previously marketed as Isojin, skyrocketed, gaining as much as 7.7 percent by late on Tuesday.

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The shares were down 4 percent on Wednesday, but more than 1.2 million tweets had employed the hashtag #Isojin by afternoon.

As governments worldwide have struggled to rein in the virus, which has killed nearly 700,000 people and infected more than 18 million, some in authority have seized on any treatment seeming to offer a glimmer of hope.

For example, US President Donald Trump has persistently promoted the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as successful in treating the virus, and in April, he asked publicly if injecting disinfectant might help.

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Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said he was aware of the Osaka governor's comments, including the fact that researchers would try to determine if the ingredient could keep disease symptoms from worsening.

"The government will closely watch developments of the research," Suga told a news conference.

Some experts were skeptical, 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."

(Writer: Sakura Murakami, Chang-Ran Kim | Editor: Clarence Fernandez)


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