While .05% of the solution can be sold for gargling purposes, the bottle does have a warning label that plainly reads, “DO NOT SWALLOW.” The average Betadine bottle sold for cleaning is a 10% solution, meaning it contains 100 times more than the recommended amount to gargle. When Rolling Stone told him that anti-vaxxers were gargling Betadine, Weinberg replied: “Fuck me! Of course they are.”
Despite the warnings, people are promoting the solution on social media as a solution to COVID-19 for gargling or using it in a nasal spray. “Don’t get COVID. Prophylaxis is not that hard,” one tweet read, according to Rolling Stone. “Also nasal spray with a couple of drops betadine in it. And gargle with original Listerine.”
But social media is more legitimate than doctors, right?
Even Listerine has issued warnings urging people not to use the products for COVID treatment. “Betadine Antiseptic products have not been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 or any other viruses,” the Listerine site reads. Given the number of people spreading misinformation, it even added a Q&A page regarding its products and COVID-19.
Of course, people don’t seem to be looking up the side effects because they can be bad. Those who take these solutions can experience kidney failure and other issues, including GI problems, low blood pressure, and thyroid abnormalities.
As a result of these at-home remedies, calls to poison control centers nationwide have increased at alarming rates. In some states, data has found over 100% increases in calls from last year to this. Officials are urging infected individuals to stay home and isolate and not take these unauthorized medications, Daily Kos reported. According to reports, calls first increased last year when Donald Trump suggested disinfectants be considered a possible treatment. At this time, who suggested Betadine and when is unclear, so many assume it is tied to Trump’s comments.
While there is no evidence that this drug works as an effective treatment for COVID-19, conservatives have pushed for it through conspiracy theories. Hate to say it and be this morbid, but with all the warnings, it seems like natural selection is taking place.