- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Researchers in Finland are working on a nasal spray that could protect vulnerable people against coronavirus infection for up to eight hours.

A team at the University of Helsinki tested the spray in mice and exposed them to the virus. They found that mice who received the spray were protected. Those who didn’t get the spray became infected.

The findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, offer insight into the next generation of technologies being developed to protect the world against COVID-19.

The spray is applied to mucous membranes in the nose, where infection with the virus typically begins before moving to other parts of the body.

Professor Kalle Saksela said the spray is not intended to supplant vaccines and might be best suited for immunocompromised persons who fail to mount a sufficient immune response from shots.

“These types of molecules that prevent infections, or antiviral drugs for that matter, cannot substitute for vaccines in protecting the population against the coronavirus disease,” he said in a university press release this week. “Individuals whose immune system does not respond strongly enough to vaccines spring to mind in particular.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December approved an antibody drug from AstraZeneca that is given through intramuscular injection and gives “long-lasting” protection to immunocompromised persons prior to infection.

The Finnish professor said omicron and other variants have shown an ability to get around vaccines’ overall shield, so a quick-acting spray that offers short protection “could be useful to people whose vaccine protection is insufficient for one reason or another” as they go about their lives.

“Depending on the epidemic situation, it could also benefit fully vaccinated individuals when administered before any situation associated with a high risk of exposure,” Mr. Saksela said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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