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Earlier this week, the National Poison Centre – a division of the Health Ministry – debunked a product known as an â€œanti-virus health tagâ€.
Using scientific evidence, the centre pointed out that “health tags” have virtually no effect on disinfecting virus and the chlorine dioxide gas emitted is extremely low, bordering on undetectable.
However, Antah Pharma Sdn Bhd, the company that makes the Defend â€œhealth tagâ€ has stepped out to, well, defend itself.
In a statement, the company said that it has never claimed to provide protection against Covid-19 and that reports on social media that claim otherwise are misleading and untrue.
Antah Pharma would like to clarify that our product, Defend tag DOES NOT claim to prevent the spread of Covid-19 nor is it a preventive device against potential contraction of Covid-19.Antah Pharma
The company also said that itâ€™s Defend tag is not a substitute for diligent personal hygiene such as washing hands with soap and water and using sanitizers and face masks whenever necessary.
Which is all fine and dandy. After all, the packaging of the product just says that it eliminates 99.9% of bacteria & viruses. So, it seems like the novel coronavirus is part of the 0.1% that slipped through the cracks.
What about the chlorine dioxide gas?
Antah Pharmaâ€™s defence of using the chlorine dioxide lies in three key points:
- It is often used to sterilise medical and laboratory equipment, surfaces, rooms and tools.
- Used to disinfect drinking water around the world, recognised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in the World Health Organizationâ€™s (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality (GDWQ).
- Regulated by Hatukaichi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Japan Chlorine Dioxide Industry Association, who have also certified the Defend tag.
It’s true that chlorine dioxide is strong disinfectant – which is why the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) classifies chlorine dioxide as hazardous.
Breathing in the chemical can cause irritation of the nose, throat and lungs. Meanwhile large amounts can lead to shortness of breath and other respiratory problems.
Luckily, Defend tag contains 5g of sodium chlorite in a sachet that releases standardised chlorine dioxide gas. And this standardised amount of gas released has been found in a Japanese study to be very low or zero in every product. So, it looks like there’s nothing to worry about!
If you really want to protect yourself from Covid-19, soap and water is really what you need. Stay safe, everyone!
She puts the pun in Punjabi. With a background in healthcare, lifestyle writing and memes, this lady's articles walk a fine line between pun-dai and pun-ishing.