We might have seen these special “health tags” worn around, especially by prominent figures in the country, claiming to protect individuals from the COVID-19 infection. Should we be getting them too?
The National Poison Centre has refuted the claim that the product, which contains chlorine dioxide, when worn around the neck, can protect individuals against COVID-19 infection.
In its Facebook posting shared on 30 March, it cited a 2017 study that claimed that products emitting low or even undetectable levels of chlorine dioxide gas had no effect on destroying bacteria or viruses.
"The finding shows that wearing such 'health tags' is not effective in preventing existing bacterial or viral infections, let alone COVID-19. Chlorine dioxide gas has an irritant effect especially towards the respiratory system, depending on the amount and concentration of the gas exposure,” it said in the posting.
The National Poison Centre also expressed its concern that people are putting faith in these health tags while at the same time ignoring proven methods such as hand-washing and social distancing to help protect them against the virus.
"What is more concerning is that consumers' faith in this product could make them feel safe and protected from infection. As a result, the wearer would become less vigilant in practising proven prevention methods such as frequent handwashing and social distancing," it added in the statement.
Malaysia Kini reports that various brands are producing these health tags and that they can be found online and in at least one major pharmacy chain. They are marketed as little sachets containing sodium chlorite, intended to be worn around the neck as they release chlorine dioxide gas that claims to eliminate 99.9% of viruses and bacteria in one cubic metre area around the user. It is said to be effective for 45 days once it is opened.
Recently, photos of prominent figures such as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had been making their rounds around social media, all wearing the alleged “health tags”.
This raised concern among netizens, who may have believed that these health tags would actually protect them against the virus.
Now the National Poison Centre has debunked the effectiveness of the product, let’s all be wary of what is being marketed out there, especially in times of uncertainty in the country.
Remember to always refer to reliable sources such as The Ministry of Health (MOE) website for prevention methods against the COVID-19 virus.
By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya