[ UPDATE 1/04/2020 22:55 ]: The makers of the Defend Tag has responded to COVID-19 claims of its product. More details here.
Recently a particular “health tag” went viral which claimed to capable of keeping COVID-19 at bay. It’s mostly sold online and some alleged that our leaders are wearing them during meetings and press conferences. Can a small tag really help to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Before you spend your hard-earned money, the Ministry of Health has downplayed the effectiveness of such products which is said to cost around RM60. The Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said that the public should refer to the ministry when it comes to products and substances that are being promoted as cures for COVID-19. He said that there are lot of products in the market and if there are any issues, the ministry will advise with facts.
According to Malaysia’s National Poison Centre, the claim that the “health tag” can prevent virus and bacterial infections in unfounded. According to a study published in Japan on the “Investigation on practical usefulness of body-worn devices that claim to release Chlorine Dioxide”, they found that there’s no effect of disinfection of bacteria or virus has occurred and the emitted gas is very low or not detectable at all. In summary, the use of “health tags” is not effective to prevent infections by viruses such as COVID-19.
In fact, Chlorine Dioxide could cause harm to the respiratory tract as it is a highly irritating gas. Of course, the effect depends on the quantity and concentration of the exposed gas.
The National Poison Centre also shared concern that the product will give the public a false sense of security believing that a simple tag will keep them safe and protected from infection. What’s worrying is that these users might not take sufficient precautions such as washing their hands and maintain social distancing.
It appears that the product in question is the Defend Healthtag by Antah Wellness. What’s surprising is that the product is currently listed on Watsons for RM59.90.
According to the description, tag claims that it can protect you from air-borne diseases as it releases anti-microbial chlorine dioxide. It is also mentioned that it can eliminate 99.9% bacteria and viruses and provide 1 cubic meter protection around the bearer. On top of that, it is rated to last for 45-days. To be fair, the health tag product page on Watsons doesn’t mention COVID-19 but the claim of eliminating 99.9% bacteria and virus from a tag is hard to believe.
A similar product that’s called Virus “Shut Out” was also spotted in Hong Kong. It was reported that Dr Ariane Davison, a virologist and immunologist have described the necklace as a complete scam and it is useless in protecting users against COVID-19. She added that Chlorine Dioxide is used to sterilise hard surfaces and should not be used near the face.
If you want to prevent the spread of COVID-19, wash your hands frequently with soap and avoid touching your face. Most importantly, stay at home during the Movement Control Order and only go out when you need to buy food or essentials.