Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Thursday defended controversial advice to use mouthwash to protect against COVID-19, saying his remarks were taken out of context, CNN reported.
In comments to a CNN producer, Johnson sought to clarify the advice he offered during a telephone town hall on Wednesday, CNN reporter Manu Raju tweeted.
“I’m doing a telephone town hall, and I’m telling people take it seriously and do what you can to boost your immune system and eat healthy,” Johnson said, CNN reported.
“I was just trying to tell Wisconsinites to take it serious,” he added.
Wisconsin outlet Heartland Signal tweeted Wednesday that Johnson, during a tele-town hall, remarked: “By the way, standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus. If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”
Johnson later tweeted a public website that concluded mouthwash provides “modest benefits” in lowering viral loads in saliva.
A dental-professional-focused website run by Listerine, one of the world’s most widely used mouthwash products, says the evidence is not strong enough to conclude it’s helpful against COVID-19, however.
Listerine “is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label,” the website states.
Johnson has previously pushed back against standard medical guidance by supporting the use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin and the use of hydroxychloroquine to battle COVID.