Ron Johnson floats treating COVID-19 with mouthwash: 'Been proven to kill the virus!'
Ron Johnson speaks to CNN (screen grab)

During a tele-town hall appearance on Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) recommended using mouthwash to treat getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Johnson, who in the past has pushed unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, told supporters that a simple bottle of Listerine could be enough to beat the virus.

"By the way, standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus," he said. "If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?"

Johnson then defended the statement on Twitter by pointing to a National Institute of Health study showing that using antiviral mouthwash provided "a modest benefit compared with placebo in reducing viral load in saliva."

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However, that particular study specifically involved "adults with asymptomatic to mild COVID-19" and not the more severe cases that lead to people winding up in the hospital.

Additionally, Listerine itself does not recommend using its products as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.

"LISTERINE Antiseptic is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label," the company states on its website. "Although there are recent lab-based reports (in vitro studies) of some LISTERINE Mouthwashes having activity against enveloped viruses, including coronavirus, the available data is insufficient, and no evidence-based clinical conclusions can be drawn with regards to the anti-viral efficacy of LISTERINE Antiseptic mouthwash at this time."