NAFDAC disowns Air Doctor, other COVID-19 ‘blockers’ despite rise in their popularity

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has disowned Air Doctor and other products that are marketed as capable of blocking COVID-19 from infecting the wearers.

The regulatory agency told NAIJA LIVE TV HealthWise that the devices have not been registered by NAFDAC, even though it received applications for registration of some of them.

This is even as experts warn that the chlorine dioxide-dispensing badges, which seem to be gaining popularity among Nigerians that can afford them, may be dangerous, after all.

In recent times, Nigerian public officials have been seen wearing the ‘COVID-19 blockers’ as badges.

Commonly pinned to the cloth in the chest area, public figures that have been spotted wearing the N20,000 device include a former Senator who represented Kogi West in the eighth National Assembly, Dino Melaye; Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde; as well as the Edo State Governorship candidate on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

Made by Japanese firm, Kiyou Jochugiku Co. Ltd, the devices are described as “a new generation of virus prevention” which “utilise the triple power of chlorine dioxide gas at low concentration (0.03 PPM) for the prevention of air-borne infection, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.”

The products come in different brands. They include Air Doctor, Virus Buster, and Personal Air Sanitiser. They also come in different colours such as red, green and blue, PUNCH HealthWise can report.

According to the information on the manufacturer’s website, https://airdoctormena.com, which is a sub domain of http://kiyou-jochugiku-global.com, the devices “eliminate microbiological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, moulds, spores, and even beta-lactams and pinworms.”

The manufacturers said “researchers have found that in appropriate concentrations, chlorine dioxide is both safe and effective.”

Speaking with our Correspondent, medical experts warned that there is no evidence that Air Doctor badges sanitise or prevent infection.

A Nigerian-born epidemiologist and population health scientist at the Harvard University, Dr. Ibraheem Abioye, said, “There is really no evidence that the products work.

“The sellers claim that the products sanitise the air around the wearer. But we know that some of the people who have been the main advocates still became infected with COVID-19.

“There are already science-backed actions that people should take and shams like these are likely to put people at risk.”

Continuing, Abioye said, “The FDA issued a warning against the use of these types of products earlier in the year, though, not specifically for the badges.

“There are safety concerns about possible ingestion or inhalation of chlorine dioxide. These include irritation of the lungs, heart function, and others.

“It is unclear to me whether the quantities of the chlorine dioxide that would be inhaled from the badge are high enough to cause these adverse reactions, though.

“If more people use it, we will likely find out more about the harm. For now, we know it doesn’t work to prevent infection. In any case, we know what works to prevent infection.”

Also, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Ilorin’s Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Tanimola Akande, said the products are unlikely to be real.

“The makers are cashing-in on the pandemic. It is unlikely to be real, since the mechanism of action is not clearly known. I am not aware of chlorine dioxide as air disinfectant.

“I doubt if the products could be sold in developed nations where standards are maintained,” Akande, who is also a member of the National Steering Committee on Implementation of National Health Act, stated.

In his reaction, Resident Media Consultant to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Sayo Akintola, said the product has not been registered by the agency.

“The deodoriser or apparatus that they want to use to de-virus or immobilise virus in individuals has not been registered by NAFDAC, even though we received applications for some,” Akintola said.

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