In addition to dismissing the severity of COVID-19 and promoting skepticism of the vaccines proven to minimize its spread, Republican elected officials have repeatedly endorsed so-called treatments with no proven efficacy in killing the virus.
Former President Donald Trump was the most infamous spreader of this disinformation, hailing the malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine and the anti-parasitic ivermectin. He even floated the possibility of injecting disinfectant as a way to kill the virus.
Far-right Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has also repeatedly worked against the advice of the world's leading medical experts regarding the virus that's killed over 750 thousand Americans. Johnson said he was "skeptical" of the effort to "vaccinate everybody." He held a press conference designed to amplify conspiracy theories regarding the vaccines and their side effects. One of Johnson's home papers—The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel—eventually labeled him the "the most irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens since the infamous Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s."
And now, Johnson is once again spreading disinformation regarding the pandemic that could get people killed.
In a recent town hall, Johnson claimed that mouthwash is an effective treatment for the virus.
"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?"
The evidence for mouthwash killing COVID-19 is limited, to say the least. There have been reports that some mouthwashes killed the virus in its early stages, but the mouth is not the target of the virus' infection.
His comments prompted the resurfacing of a warning from the world's leading mouthwash brand, Listerine, earlier in the pandemic.
The statement reads:
"LISTERINE® Antiseptic is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19 and should be used only as directed on the product label. More research is needed to understand whether the use of mouthwashes can impact viral transmission, exposure, viral entry, viral load and ultimately affect meaningful clinical outcomes."
People were united in decrying Johnson's latest disinformation.
They were especially amazed to see these lies coming from a U.S. Senator.