The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says the use of disinfectant tags cannot be substituted for non-pharmaceutical measures that are helpful in preventing people from contracting the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Such non-pharmaceutical measures include regular hand washing, use of face mask, maintaining social distancing, and respiratory hygiene, among others.
The agency says there is no scientific evidence that disinfectant tags can protect people against COVID-19.
The disinfectant tags are marketed under various names such as ‘Air Doctor,’ ‘Virus Busters,’ and ‘Personal Air Sanitizer,’ among others.
Many Nigerian notables have been spotted wearing the tags in recent times, and they include the Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, former senator Dino Melaye; and Edo State APC governorship candidate Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
While some Air Doctor wearers use face mask along with it, others do not, even when they appear in public places.
In a public health advisory on the use of ‘Air Doctor’ published on its website on Sunday, NCDC advised that whoever chooses to wear the tag should continue to adhere to other non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 interventions.
The agency wrote, “These body tags are touted as air disinfectant with ability to inactivate any germ within the surrounding of the wearer over a long period of time.
“We have found no evidence to support the claim that ‘Air doctor’ offers any benefit to the wearer.
“The active ingredients, which are often advertised as chlorine dioxide and sodium chlorite, do not exist in the environment for a long time.
“Those who wear these body tags often do so as a substitute for face masks and other recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions. This is unsafe and can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
“On the other hand, there is evidence that non-pharmaceutical measures such as physical distancing (avoiding crowded places), use of face masks in public settings, frequent hand washing, and respiratory hygiene can reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.”
“In view of the above, NCDC offers the following guidance to members of the public:
“There is no scientific evidence that disinfectant tags often known as ‘Air Doctor’ can protect people against COVID-19
“The composition and concentration of the active ingredients in ‘Air Doctor’ is ineffective against SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19,” the agency added.
NCDC also warned that chlorine dioxide and its products, which are contained in such tags, can lead to serious health effects, especially in children.
“Effective and evidence-based preventive measures against COVID-19 are: regular hand washing with soap under running water or use of alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer), physical distancing of at least two metres, wearing of face mask when in public, routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces at homes and public places and ensuring cross ventilation in indoor settings,” NCDC advised.
The agency added that it will continue to provide evidence-based guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and control.
“We urge the public to adhere to science-based preventive measures as recommended by public health authorities such as the NCDC, state or federal ministry of health and World Health Organisation,” it said.
PUNCH HealthWise had reported that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control disowned Air Doctor and other products that are marketed as capable of blocking COVID-19 from infecting the wearers.
The regulatory agency had told PUNCH 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 warned that the chlorine dioxide-dispensing badges, which seem to be gaining popularity among Nigerians that can afford them, may be dangerous, after all.