A WhatsApp message claiming that antiseptic Dettol can ward off the novel Coronavirus has gone viral all over the internet.
Dettol is a trusted British brand of cleaning supplies and disinfectant owned by Reckitt Benckiser and has been used as an antiseptic in homes for several years.
The posts and forwards show a photo of the back of a Dettol bottle, which mentions that it kills "human coronavirus".
Our readers reached out to us on our WhatsApp number to verify the claim. One of the posts on Facebook with over 10,000 shares has claimed that Dettol spray can kill coronavirus and that it was known about in 2019.
In another post with over 7,000 shares a user asked: "If Coronavirus is so new and so dangerous how come Dettol can kill it?"
Dettol antiseptic spray says it kills coronavirus.
The claim is misleading.
Coronavirus consists of a broad category of Viruses, No evidence yet that Dettol disinfectant spray can kill the COVID-19 virus strain.
The official account of Dettol Uk debunked the claim on Facebook saying that it had not yet tested its products on the novel coronavirus and could not yet confirm whether Dettol is an effective disinfectant against coronavirus.
"As this is an emerging outbreak RB, like all manufacturers, doesn't yet have access to the new virus (2019-nCoV) for testing and, as a result, are not yet in a position to confirm levels of effectiveness against the new strain," the statement reads.
"We continue to work with our partners to ensure that we have the latest understanding of the virus, route of transmission and will test our product range once health authorities make the strain available."
Specific Dettol products have demonstrated effectiveness (>99.9% inactivation) against coronavirus strains from the same family as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in third party laboratory testing when used in accordance with the directions for use.
These products include Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Spray, Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Wipes, Dettol All-In-One Disinfectant Spray, and Dettol Disinfectant Liquid.
It should be noted that coronavirus is a broad category of viruses which includes a number of different respiratory illnesses.
The "human coronavirus" referred to on the Dettol bottle is not the same as the new one that is causing the pandemic.
According to the World Health Organisation, "As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with [COVID-19] can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal."
Given the structural similarities of the COVID-19 virus to the coronavirus strains tested previously (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Human Coronavirus), and based on the evidence available to us, we would expect our Dettol products (listed above) to be effective against the new strain. Definitive scientific confirmation of this, as with all other commercially available virucides, can only be provided once testing against COVID-19 Coronavirus has been conducted, following the release of the strain by relevant health authorities.
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