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Sen. Ron Johnson suggests gargling with mouthwash to ‘kill the coronavirus’

During a virtual town hall, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson claimed that “standard gargle mouthwash” can kill the COVID-19 virus

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said “standard gargle mouthwash” kills coronaviruses like COVID-19, though science doesn’t back his claim, according to Newsweek.

  • During a virtual town hall, Johnson noted the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, then suggested measures — such as taking vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C — to stay safe.
  • “By the way, standard gargle mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” Johnson added, per the report. “If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”
  • He went on to say that it was boggling how the National Institute of Health tells people to “do nothing. Maybe take Tylenol.”

Does Sen. Ron Johnson’s advice work?

While mouthwash can partially kill parts of the coronavirus in a person’s mouth, most infections occur through the nose, according to MSNBC.

Raymond Niaura, interim chairman of the epidemiology department at New York University, told The Washington Post that gargling doesn’t hurt, but it has to be accompanied by vaccinations. “That way, one would be at reduced risk for infection and have good-smelling breath,” he said.

What Niaura means is that, no, it doesn’t work.

The New York Times noted in the spring that Johnson “has become the Republican Party’s foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation now that Donald Trump himself is banned from social media.”

According to MSNBC, he has also pushed hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, both of which are ineffective.