COVID nasal protection spray a game changer

The results of a clinical trial held during the peak of the Delta variant infections across India has found a nasal spray is highly effective against the virus and may be a game changer in areas where PPE is in short supply.

Queen Mary University of London professors Rakesh Uppal and Áine McKnight have been at the centre of a new clinical trial involving nasal spray pHOXWELL developed by biotech company pHOXBIO.

The study found a 63% reduction in SARS-CoV-2 infection in the group given pHOXWELL compared to the group given the placebo.

The trial was carried out during the peak surge of the highly infectious Delta variant in India in April to July 2021. Both a spray and placebo were delivered to 648 healthcare workers in India at high risk of the virus, to best test the solution’s effectiveness.

Following the study, 13.1 per cent of those receiving the spray tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, significantly less than the 34.5 per cent who received the placebo treatment.

Additionally, only 17.6 per cent of pHOXWELL patients who tested positive for the virus showed clinical symptoms. This compared to almost double in those from the placebo arm, with 34.6 per cent displaying these signs.

Uppal, Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at Queen Mary University of London, director of Barts Life Sciences and chairman of pHOXBIO, said: “pHOXWELL presents a significant breakthrough. We now have an effective tool, previously missing, to fight this pandemic.

“Vaccination, while absolutely essential, is not 100 per cent effective and it is still possible to become infected by, and transmit, the virus that causes COVID-19. pHOXWELL is designed to offer extra protection to vaccines and PPE, as the spray inhibits SARS-CoV-2 from infecting the nasal mucosa, which is the primary entry point into the body.”

He added there is considerable potential for an intranasal COVID-19 treatment to have a key role in preventing cases, given it is designed to prevent infection in an area where the virus enters and replicates.

The nasal spray offers 6-8 hours of protection with just two sprays per nostril and is designed to be effective against other airborne respiratory viruses as well.

The hope following the trial is for production and distribution of pHOXWELL to commence soon in India initially, before expanding into other regions to best protect people around the world.

The researchers said they expected that the treatment will be of particular use in areas where vaccination rates remain low and there is a shortage of personal protective equipment for those who need it, such as frontline healthcare workers.

Scientists from several universities and institutions collaborated in the research and trials.

Following the study, 13.1 per cent of those receiving the spray tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, significantly less than the 34.5 per cent who received the placebo treatment.

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