The Use of Povidone Iodine Nasal Spray and Mouthwash During the Current COVID-19 Pandemic May Reduce Cross Infection and Protect Healthcare Workers
10 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2020 Last revised: 19 May 2020
Date Written: May 4, 2020
In late 2019 a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 causing Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) appeared in Wuhan China, and on 11th March 2020 the World Health Organisation declared it to have developed pandemic status. In early SARS-CoV-2 infection, viral titres of greater than 107/mL in saliva and nasal mucous can be found; minimisation of these titres should help to reduce cross infection. Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) disinfectant has better anti-viral activity than other antiseptics and has already been proven to be an extremely effective virucide in vitro against severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). Its in vivo virucidal activity is unknown, but it retains its antimicrobial activity against bacteria in vivo intraorally and one application can reduce oral microbial flora for greater than 3 hours.
PVP-I disinfectant has been shown to be safe when administered to the nasal cavity and as a mouthwash. We propose a protocolised intra-nasal and oral application of PVP-I for both patients and their attendant healthcare workers (HCWs) during the current COVID-19 pandemic to help limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from patients to healthcare workers and vice versa. The aim is to reduce the viral ‘load’ in two of the key areas from where droplets and aerosols containing the virus are expectorated (the lower respiratory tract being the other). The aim of use in HCWs is to destroy virus that has entered the upper aerodigestive tract before it has the opportunity to infect the host.
We suggest the protocol is considered for routine use during the care of COVID-19 patients, particularly before any procedure that involves the upper aerodigestive tract, including intubation, nasal and oral procedures, endoscopy and bronchoscopy. We suggest it should be considered when such procedures are carried out in all patients during the pandemic regardless of COVID-19 status, due to the reported significant rates of asymptomatic infection
The total iodine exposure proposed is well within previously recorded safe limits in those without contraindications to its use. The intervention is inexpensive, low risk and potentially easy to deploy at scale globally.
We acknowledge that the proposal we present extrapolates in vitro finding into the in vivo setting and that assumptions are made that under normal circumstances we would confirm with in vivo data prior to recommendations for use. However, given the strength of in vitro evidence and the low risk, minimal cost and global applicability of the proposed intervention, which amounts to disinfection of the oro/nasal cavities, we feel that there is little to lose and potentially much to gain.
Note: Funding: None of the authors are in receipt of any funding currently in relation to the preparation oft manuscript.
Declaration of Interest: All authors declare no interests.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Povidone-iodine, global health
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