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Clinical Trial Tests Nasal Spray and Gargle as COVID-19 Preventative

Jun 23, 2020 by Kamran Ahmed

Nasal spray being tested as COVID-19 preventative

Scientists at the University of Kentucky are testing the use of antiseptic nasal spray and gargle to determine their effectiveness in stopping the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare professionals and non-COVID patients. 


The PIIPPI (Povidone-Iodine Intranasal for Prophylaxis in front-line Physicians/health care workers and Inpatients) trial will investigate the efficacy of iodine as a preventative measure in people who have not tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


The COVID-19 pandemic is in full-swing, and front-line healthcare workers are at higher risk of getting infected. Researchers have stated that finding effective ways to reduce virus transmission among these workers is of utmost importance. 


Iodine, an already tried and tested antiseptic against several other viruses, seems to be the most plausible way to reduce the viral load and exposure to COVID-19 among healthcare workers and non-COVID patients. 


"Povidone-iodine – in the specific concentration and preparation we are studying – has been shown to be safe, well-tolerated and to have efficacy against SARS and MERS. So we wanted to investigate if it would work on this virus," said Dr. Alexandra Kejner, assistant professor in the UK Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, and lead investigator for the study.


UK healthcare workers will only be eligible for the trial if they have not previously tested positive for COVID-19. All participants will be tested beforehand, and then started on the nasal spray and gargle if they meet the eligibility criteria. 


The participants will use the nasal spray and gargle three times a day. Also, they will have to fill out questionnaires every day during the three-week-long trial period. The participants will be tested again at the end of the trial or if they start showing symptoms of the new coronavirus. 


Healthcare workers who wish to participate but are pregnant or have a disorder will be placed in a control group that uses standard PPE instead of nasal spray and gargle. For patients participating in the trial, the nasal spray and gargle will either be administered preoperatively or right after hospital admission. 


"We are currently in a worldwide emergency, and it is imperative to explore various forms of prevention and treatment in order to help our coworkers and patients," said Dr. Kejna.


A successful outcome of the clinical trial could effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing chemical protection for healthcare professionals and patients.

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