A NASAL spray that can prevent the coronavirus infection for up to two days could be available in high street chemists by the summer.
The spray is made from ingredients already approved for medical use so won’t need further approval and will help to ease lockdown restrictions.
There is also hope that the spray might bring about an end to social distancing.
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have been working on spray since April last year.
They are currently in discussions with shops and pharmaceutical giants on the next steps to mass produce the spray, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
The researchers believe using the spray four times a day would be enough for general protection from Covid.
It’s also safe enough to be applied every 20 minutes if in a high-risk, densely populated environment such as schools.
“We think it will help in schools, as one of the good things about the formulation of the nasal spray is that it would not need to be reformulated for children,” said lead researcher Dr Richard Moakes.
“It means we would give it to children and adults alike, and it might be able to get schools going again.
“If it could facilitate getting students back to school, and education being re-established, then that would be great.
“I am confident that the formulation can make an impact. Our goal is to make an impact as soon as possible, we would really like to see this happen by summer.”
The spray is a combination of an antiviral agent called carrageenan and a solution called gellan – a gelling agent selected for its ability to stick to cells inside the nose.
It helps prevent infection by capturing the virus in the nose and covering it it in a coating which it can’t escape.
That would make it safe for person to breathe out even if inhaled by another person, because the virus would be inactive and harmless.
At the end of last year it as announced the first Covid vaccine nasal spray will be trialled on 48 British volunteers.
The drug, COVI-VAC, is manufactured by New York-based company Codagenix.
Brits who trial the medicine will be given a genetically-modified version of Covid that’s far weaker than the real thing – but still infectious.