Spike in sales of throat sprays, mouthwash in Singapore
Throat spray and mouth gargle products containing an ingredient proven to reduce the spread of Covid-19 are selling fast across pharmacies in Singapore, amid the Omicron wave.
At eight of 10 Guardian, Unity and Watsons stores located in central areas that The Straits Times checked over the weekend and Monday, the Betadine throat spray and Orasol-ID Antiseptic Gargle & Mouthwash were both sold out.
Unity, managed by supermarket chain FairPrice, had a more than 50 per cent jump in sales for mouth gargles and sprays containing the active ingredient povidone-iodine between January and last month, says a spokesman.
Such products include Betadine throat spray, Difflam antiseptic sore throat gargle and Orasol-ID antiseptic mouthwash.
"Stocks for these products remain available. But we will continue to monitor consumer demand and bring in supplies and relevant products to meet the needs of our customers," says the spokesman.
At Watsons, sales of products including Betadine throat spray and Nodogle throat spray increased by 50 per cent after Chinese New Year compared with the last two weeks of January, says a spokesman for the pharmacy chain.
A check of its online store yesterday morning showed that both products were sold out. The spokesman says the Betadine throat spray is expected to be back in stores by the end of this month.
Checks on e-commerce platform Lazada yesterday morning also found that Betadine throat sprays were sold out.
Account executive Sheryll Goh rushed to buy four bottles of the throat spray for her family in late January when she heard from friends that it worked well to ease sore throats when they had Covid-19.
"I wanted to stock up because of the rising number of cases. We may need them if we were to get Covid-19 and are recovering at home," says the 30-year-old, who lives with her parents and elder brother.
At pharmacy chain Guardian, the demand for throat spray and mouth gargle products, such as Difflam Povidone Iodine Gargle, has more than doubled last month from January, says a spokesman.
Dr Samintharaj Kumar, chief executive of Nuffield Dental Holdings, who created mouthwash Orasyl Orange, has seen a 60 per cent spike in sales of the product from November to January this year. As at yesterday, it is still available on the Orasyl website, Lazada, Shopee and all 10 Nuffield dental clinics.
Most people, Dr Kumar says, buy the mouthwash for themselves, but there are others who have used it and bought it for friends or family, especially if they have Covid-19.
"They tend to buy a carton of 12 bottles of 250ml or 500ml. This is the most common as they can be distributed easily among family members in the same household," he says.
Dr Kumar says Orasyl Orange contains 1 per cent of povidone- iodine, an active ingredient that helps reduce the volume of Covid-19 particles in the throat.
"So if you have Covid-19 and have symptoms such as a sore throat or an upper respiratory tract symptom, gargling with Orasyl Orange effectively reduces the viral load in your throat," he adds.
According to a National University Health System study done in 2020, using a povidone-iodine throat spray thrice a day is more effective in reducing Covid-19 infections than taking vitamin C.
The study, which was conducted on 3,037 healthy participants, randomly assigned them to receive a six-week preventive course of one of five therapies including povidone-iodine throat spray; oral zinc and vitamin C combination; and oral vitamin C.
After six weeks, researchers found that 70 per cent of those in the vitamin C group had been infected, compared with 46 per cent of those in the povidone-iodine throat spray group. The findings were published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Associate Professor Raymond Seet, a senior consultant at National University Hospital who led the study, says that iodine is the active ingredient while povidone is the carrier molecule.
"The combination of povidone- iodine allows iodine to remain stable in liquid form and retain its efficacy against viruses and bacteria. Iodine exerts its antiviral effects by damaging key structures of Sars-CoV-2, which prevents its transmission to others," he tells ST, referring to the virus that causes Covid-19.
"A mouth gargle could be equally as effective as a throat spray, provided the gargling technique ensures the solution reaches the throat and the user has ready access to a sink," he says.
He adds that people with thyroid disorders, pregnant women and those who are allergic to iodine should consult their doctors first before using povidone-iodine.
Prof Seet says people can use these products along with masking and frequent handwashing to further reduce the spread of Covid-19.
"They can be used to enhance one's protection when living with someone who has Covid-19 or being in crowded areas such as malls, hospitals and airplanes where there could be uncertainties on the risk of infection," he says.