The Fox News article, written by Chris Ciaccia, discusses a study that evaluated the mechanisms in which viral lipid membranes are disrupted by mouthwash components. These components include ethanol, chlorohexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, hydrogen peroxide, and povidone-iodine. The study concludes that many previous studies on viruses that contain an outer lipid membrane derived from the host cell from which it buds, including coronaviruses, point towards oral rinsing using mouthwash potentially reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and therefore COVID-19 transmission.
Ciaccia explains that coronaviruses have spike proteins on their surface, enabling them to recognize and attach to receptor sites on cell membranes. Mouthwash contains ingredients that potentially can disrupt the lipid membranes of enveloped viruses. He mentions that the researchers are unsure of the length of time the mouthwash ingredients can interact with the biomembranes in the mouth.
Ciaccia accurately portrays the findings from the study in a clear and concise way that is easy to understand, as he avoids scientific jargon. Additionally, he ensures to include statements from a WHO spokesman and from Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Listerine mouthwash. These statements indicate that there is no evidence that can definitively conclude that mouthwash can protect against or treat the current coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Thus, he ensures that readers know that further research must be done.
While the contents of the news story are accurately written, the title is not entirely representative of the research article, in that it overstates the claims made in the study. The study concluded that there is simply a potential for mouthwash to prevent COVID-19 transmission. However, to an average reader worried about COVID-19, the title may appear to claim that the study suggested that mouthwash does indeed prevent transmission. Fortunately, Ciaccia’s inclusion of statements from the WHO and Johnson & Johnson as well as one of the researchers denies such claims that the title may imply.
This article, written by Chris Ciaccia for Fox News provides a thorough analysis of findings made by scientists regarding insights into the effects that mouthwash may have on COVID-19 transmission. The study, published in the journal Function claims that mouthwash could reduce the spread of the virus, however, it is emphasized that additional research is required to make a sound claim. While the findings of the study are of great importance to the COVID pandemic, important clarifications are necessary to ensure that the results are not misinterpreted. Ciaccia effectively communicates the limitations of the study by including contradictory sources from pharmaceutical companies and health experts that caution against the results of the study.
Due to the widespread dissemination of misinformation during the COVID pandemic, sources of news must be wary when providing health guidance. This news article acted with this very concern in mind. There is no fear-mongering language or irrational claims extrapolated from the study. Reasonable jargon is used given the general target audience.
One minor flaw could be the purpose of publishing such an article. While the description of the study is accurate, it brings in evidence that contradicts those findings. This inclusion is necessary to assess the quality of the scientific report; however, the primary message of the story is the emphasis for further research. Rather than publish an article advertising the need for additional research, it may be more suitable to wait for more conclusive reporting.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.