Background: Gargling had been reported to have some roles in the prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections. The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of regular gargling using 7.5% sodium bicarbonate to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 in the oropharynx and nasopharynx.
Materials and methods: This pilot, open-labeled, nonrandomized, parallel single-center study. The effect of 30 seconds, three times per day gargling using 7.5% sodium bicarbonate solution—25 mL on SARS-CoV-2 viral clearance among coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients in a dedicated COVID hospital at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India. We monitored the progress on by days 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 by observing variables like clinical category, P/F ratio, neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) ratio, platelet count, ferritin, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), CRP, procalcitonin, d-dimer, INR, APTT, and sequential organ function assessment (SOFA) score. We have also done repeat reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on day 5 and day 7.
Results: A total of 10 patients (7 males and 3 females) were included in our study after confirmed COVID positivity. The age range was from 30 to 61 years. Based on clinical severity and P/F ratio, 7 patients were included in the milder group as their ratio was more than 200 and the rest 3 patients were included in the moderate group as P/F ratio was less than 200. Two respondents had comorbidities, which were non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and ovarian carcinoma. Viral clearance was achieved at day 7 in 3 of 10 patients. However, the analysis of using 7.5% sodium bicarbonate 25 mL gargle statistically showed nonsignificant p-value for all of our studied variables. However, the PCR results were negative on 24 hours apart, i.e., on day 5 and day 7.
Conclusions: This is only a preliminary study which showed that gargling with 7.5% sodium bicarbonate may not be effective in achieving early SARS-CoV-2 viral clearance among mild COVID-19 patients. However, still larger studies are required to ascertain the benefit of gargling for different stages of COVID-19 patients with keeping in mind the important variables suggestive of viremia clearance.