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Nasal Spray Study Raises Hopes for COVID Protection

It's found to 'completely' protect ferrets in small study
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2020 12:11 PM CST
Updated Nov 8, 2020 10:30 AM CST

(Newser) – A nasal spray that attacks the coronavirus has been found to protect a small group of ferrets, raising hopes that the solution might do the same for humans. The spray is inexpensive to make and does not need refrigeration, reports the New York Times, which notes that if this pans out, "a daily spritz up the nose would act like a vaccine." The spray is described in a study shared online Thursday. The study has been submitted to the journal Science but not yet peer-reviewed. Still, Dr. Peter J. Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine says the spray looks "really promising," per the Times. Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says he could see it "being part of the arsenal" used to combat the virus—if proven effective in humans. Like humans, ferrets can catch viruses through their noses, per the Telegraph.

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Microbiologist Anne Moscona, co-author of the study funded by the National Institutes of Health and Columbia University Medical Center, says researchers are waiting for patent approval for the spray, which is only effective for 24 hours. In the meantime, she hopes Columbia will reach out to the federal government or pharmaceutical companies as more funding is needed to begin clinical trials on people. The study claims a daily dose given to six ferrets "completely prevented SARS-CoV-2 direct-contact transmission during 24-hour co-housing with infected animals." The spray worked on four variants of the virus and also offered some protection against SARS and MERS, researchers say. "If it works this well in humans, you could sleep in a bed with someone infected ... and still be safe," Moscona tells the Times. (A similar product is being tested on humans in China.)

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