Some anti-vaxxers have turned to an alternative treatment to try and ward off COVID-19 – povidone-iodine, which is often sold under the brand name Betadine.

Some believe that Betadine, which is used as a vaginal douche and a disinfectant for cuts and scrapes, can prevent COVID-19, and they have taken to gargling or using it as a nasal spray to prevent catching the virus, Rolling Stone reported.

Betadine is most often used as a disinfectant in hospitals. Kenneth Weinberg, an ER doctor in New York, told Rolling Stone, “If you’re in the ER and someone has a wound to sew it up, you use it to clean with.”

While it is unclear how the trend of using iodine to treat COVID-19 got started as there are no studies supporting the treatment, a 2020 paper written by a Bangladeshi plastic surgeon makes claims for the use of Betadine to prevent the virus, the Independent said.

However, Betadine has troubling side effects if ingested and can be toxic as it is meant to be a topical treatment.

On the Betadine website, the company addresses those people who are using the product as a COVID killer.

The company said on the COVID-19 response section of its website, “Betadine Antiseptic First Aid products have not been approved to treat coronavirus. Betadine Antiseptic First Aid products should only be used to help prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes and burns. Betadine Antiseptic products have not been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 or any other viruses.”

Side effects of ingesting Betadine or other iodine products can include abdominal pain, diarrhea that can be bloody, fever, coughing, vomiting, shortness of breath, and delirium, according to Mount Sinai. In more severe cases, heart and kidney failure can occur, the Poison Control Center said.

Betadine does produce an iodine gargle product to treat sore throats but says strictly that it is not for the prevention of COVID-19 or for ingestion.

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