A dangerous new trend has emerged on social media, which involves a new COVID ‘cure’ by gargling the widely used antiseptic, povidone-iodine (PVP).
This trend has been sparked by an online video in Thai which has been widely shared on social media, featuring someone who claims to be a doctor. However this has been debunked. The trend is also cause for concern as the PVP may accidentally be swallowed.
PVP, also sold under the name Betadine, is used for disinfection in surgical procedures and wound treatment. Gargling with 0.5% PVP has been shown to reduce the symptoms of sore throat associated with COVID, but has not been adequately shown to relieve any other symptoms.
The immediate side effects of ingesting any PVP antiseptic include nausea, vomiting, general weakness, and diarrhoea. In severe cases, PVP ingestion can result in acute renal failure, cardiovascular collapse, liver function impairment, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and even death.
In one study, researchers assessed the usage of 0.5% povidone-iodine mouthwash in patients as a way of reducing viral load during dental procedures, reducing possible exposure of healthcare workers. However, there is no evidence beyond in vitro testing that it actually reduces viral load in the throat.
An official statement on the Betadine website reads as follows: “Betadine® Antiseptic First Aid products have not been approved to treat coronavirus. Products should only be used to help prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes and burns. Betadine Antiseptic products have not been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 or any other viruses.”