SINGAPORE - Singapore households can register their interest in collecting a bottle of StayWell mouth gargle from Nov 15, said Temasek Foundation on Thursday (Oct 21).
The povidone-iodine (PVP-I) gargle, which kills germs that cause sore throat, will be distributed under the foundation's Stay Prepared initiative, which aims to reduce the spread of illnesses.
Interested households can register here to collect a 250ml bottle of the gargle and a 25ml measuring cup.
The registration period is from Nov 15 to Dec 10.
Registered households can also collect the gargle at their preferred collection points from Nov 22 to Dec 12, subject to availability.
Should demand exceed expectations, a second round of self-collection may take place after the Chinese New Year period next February, said Temasek Foundation.
Separately, from next Monday to Nov 19, a smaller bottle of the gargle will be delivered to the letter boxes of all one- to four-room Housing Board flats.
No action is required from eligible households to receive this 125ml bottle of gargle.
Residents may gargle two to four times a day when they feel a sore throat is about to develop, or for general oral hygiene.
This latest initiative by Temasek Foundation follows its distributions of masks, hand sanitiser and oximeters over the past 18 months.
The PVP-I gargle, a fast-acting brown liquid against pathogens, is formulated for gargling and should not be swallowed.
Temasek Foundation cautioned that there are PVP-I liquid disinfectants available on the market that are used to disinfect wounds or skin surfaces. These should not be used as gargles as they may contain other disinfectants or have higher concentrations of PVP-I.
Evidence from multiple studies have shown that PVP-I can interrupt the attachment of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – to oral and nasopharyngeal tissues and lower the amount of viral particles in saliva and respiratory droplets.
Throat sprays containing the chemical have also been found useful in preventing Covid-19 infection.
A study last year found that using a PVP-I throat spray three times a day reduced the likelihood of getting infected by Sars-CoV-2 by over 20 per cent.
The study, done by a team of clinician-scientists from the National University Health System, involved 3,037 asymptomatic healthy young men with an average age of 33.
The men, who were dormitory residents, were split into five groups, with each group given one of the following for six weeks: vitamin C (control group), zinc and vitamin C, the PVP-I throat spray, hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin.
At the end of six weeks, their blood samples were collected and analysed for their antibody response to Sars-CoV-2.
It was found that 70 per cent of those in the vitamin C group had been infected with the virus, while the hydroxychloroquine group had 49 per cent infected and the figure for the PVP-I throat spray group was 46 per cent.
Associate Professor Raymond Seet of the department of medicine at National University Hospital, who led the study, said: "Oral hydroxychloroquine and PVP-I throat spray are existing drugs that are easily available and have known safety profiles.
"This can represent a viable preventive strategy for individuals living in a closed and high-exposure setting, especially in areas and countries where Covid-19 vaccination is not available or widespread."