Japanese drugstores were stripped bare of gargling solution by Wednesday (Aug 5), a day after the governor of the western prefecture of Osaka suggested it could help fight COVID-19, triggering panicked buying reminiscent of the early days of mask shortages.
Hundreds of thousands of people posted pictures of emptied shelves on Twitter, accompanied by handwritten “Out of Stock” notices, as they canvassed suggestions on how to acquire the coveted antiseptic.
“Anyone else having trouble buying gargling medicine? I’m coming to four misses now,” wrote one user, @shotaro_1117, who posted images of four cleaned-out shelves.
Banners notifying that gargling medicine is out of stock, Tokyo, Japan, Aug 5, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato)
On Tuesday, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said a study showed a smaller viral load in the saliva of 41 patients with mild symptoms after regular gargling with a medicine infused with povidone-iodine solution than in those who had not.
“Perhaps we can even overcome the coronavirus with gargling medicine,” he told a mid-afternoon news conference, speaking of the study on those convalescing in regional hotels which was released by an Osaka hospital.
As the Japanese official spoke, shares of Meiji Holdings Co, which sells a popular medicine previously marketed as Isojin, skyrocketed, gaining as much as 7.7 per cent by late on Tuesday.