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As a global leader in oral care, we have reviewed recent literature, as well as registered clinical trials regarding mouthwash and COVID-19. As more external study results are proposed and published, we are also working with trusted partners to explore the efficacy of LISTERINE® mouthwashes inactivating the COVID-19 virus. Current available data is insufficient to support a conclusion that the use of LISTERINE® mouthwash is helpful in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
Because of the significant attention on this topic, we have developed this information sheet on the emerging science and research.
LISTERINE® Antiseptic is an antimicrobial mouthwash that is clinically proven to kill germs that cause bad breath, plaque and the early gum disease, gingivitis. LISTERINE® Antiseptic is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label.
We are aware of several ongoing, independent clinical trials where LISTERINE® is being assessed in patients with COVID-19. However, the current available data is not sufficient to support a conclusion that the use of LISTERINE® mouthwash is helpful against the COVID-19 virus. As a company firmly rooted in science, we are committed to advancing research in oral and public health.
Our understanding of the course of COVID-19 disease transmission continues to evolve. Overall, more research is needed to understand whether use of mouthwashes can impact viral transmission, exposure, viral entry, viral load and ultimately affect meaningful clinical outcomes or have a public health impact. This is why Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health will continue to be active and consider further investment in lab and clinical studies with trusted collaborators, playing an important role in understanding the interaction between oral care and the COVID-19 virus in the mouth.
IN VITRO DATA
We are aware of the following external, independent lab studies that have evaluated the efficacy of various LISTERINE® mouthwashes and other mouthwashes against coronaviruses.
- In Vitro SARS-CoV-2 Clinical Isolates Data (Meister et al.; Ruhr University Bochum)
- In Vitro Human Coronavirus 229e Data (Meyers et al.; Penn State College of Medicine)
- The Virucidal Efficacy of Oral Rinse Components Against SARS-CoV-2 In Vitro (Statkute et al.; Cardiff University)
- Differential effects of antiseptic mouth rinses on SARS-CoV-2 (Xu et al.; Rutgers University)
- Effective in-vitro inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 by commercially available mouthwashes (Davies et al.; National Health Service (NHS), Public Health England)
In 2021, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health sponsored a study with BioScience Laboratories which tested LISTERINE® mouthwashes under laboratory conditions in the United States. The results demonstrated greater than 99.99% reduction of COVID-19 after 30 seconds of exposure.
These in vitro studies have shown that LISTERINE® mouthwashes inactivate COVID-19 and its surrogate viruses. However, no evidence-based clinical conclusions can be drawn with regards to the anti-viral activity of LISTERINE® Antiseptic mouthwash at this time.
IN VIVO STUDIES
The authors suggest that gargling with Betadine or LISTERINE® Original Antiseptic three times per day for seven days in early COVID-19 positive patients may reduce viral load in the oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal regions.
This study called Povidone-Iodine Vs Essential Oil Vs Tap Water Gargling For COVID-19 Patients (GARGLES) has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and, given its small size, it cannot be used to draw conclusions.
Additionally, we are aware of several ongoing, independent studies (below) that are evaluating the anti-viral activity of various LISTERINE® Mouthwashes and other mouthwashes against coronaviruses.
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is currently providing support for an in-progress, investigator-initiated and independent clinical trial with the UK’s NHS and Public Health England.
This is a single-rinse study in which COVID-19 positive patients have initial virus levels measured then are instructed to rinse once as directed with one of several test products. The subject’s virus levels are measured at the one-minute, 10-minute, 30-minute and one-hour time intervals. The hypothesis is that mouthwashes, including two LISTERINE® variants, can reduce virus levels in the mouth and the efficacy can last over time. This may further our understanding on the potential to reduce viral transmission through saliva droplets or aerosols.
Additional clinical research is needed to understand whether rinsing and/or gargling with LISTERINE® Mouthwashes or other mouthwashes have potential to reduce the viral load in the oral cavity and oropharynx, and/or reduce the transmission of the virus.
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
- UCSF - Antiseptic Mouthwash/Pre-Procedural Rinse on SARS-CoV-2 Load (COVID-19) (AMPoL)
- UNC – Mouth Rinses for Inactivation of COVID-19 (MOR)
- University of Witten/Herdecke, Faculty of Health (Germany) - Clinical investigation of the effectiveness of different mouth rinses in Covid-19-Patients
- Augusta University [COVID-19] Reduction of Sars-CoV-2 Oral Viral Load With Prophylactic Mouth Rinse
- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine - SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) Nasal Pharyngeal and Oral Pharyngeal Wash (SNOW) Trial
Search results for all clinical trials investigating mouthwashes on ClinicalTrials.gov:
Malaysia study links to results on ClinicalTrials.gov and online publication:
University of Witten/Herdecke, Faculty of Health study link: https://www.drks.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00023725
Augusta University (Georgia) study link: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04719208?term=mouthwash&cond=Covid19&draw=2&rank=5
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (Penn State) https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04802408?term=mouthwash&cond=Covid19&draw=2&rank=16
NHS/PHE study link: https://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN16269648
As a company firmly rooted in science, we will continue to monitor the science, engage in the scientific exchange and ongoing research relating to this topic, while having conversations with study investigators around the globe as needed.
For more information on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Response.
Updated August 24, 2021