What To Know About Experimental Nasal Sprays for COVID

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 19, 2022
3 min read

Curious about nasal sprays for COVID?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to COVID-19 prevention, vaccinations are a great way to go. However, like most viruses, COVID-19 can mutate and evolve. The original COVID-19 virus has since mutated into variants such as Alpha, Beta, Kappa, and Omicron.

With COVID-19 continuing to evolve even today, the current vaccines are becoming increasingly less likely to prevent these infections from spreading. New preventive methods are being researched as a way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at public events, such as sporting events, concerts, and more, and that’s where antiviral nasal spray for COVID comes in.

Though experimental, antiviral nasal sprays for COVID have been researched and developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to prevent COVID-19. So far, the experimental drug has proven to be effective in mice, and researchers believe it may provide similar immunity to humans. 

The experimental nasal spray is still newly developed, though, so there isn’t too much information surrounding the possible benefits (or side effects). It’s possible that this small molecule could be inserted into a person’s nose to prevent COVID-19 infections following exposure, though. Researchers at Cornell believe that it can also be used as an early treatment as long as the spray is used soon after exposure.

The mice who were tested were given SARS-CoV-2 human receptors. The antiviral molecule, known as N-0385, was administered, the molecule proved capable of protecting the mice from infection after they were exposed to the virus. The molecule was also determined to be effective in treating the virus when it was administered within 12 hours of exposure.

The nasal sprays for COVID have been shown to surpass existing antibody treatments in engineered mice and have been effective in treating and preventing not only standard COVID-19 infections but also its variants.

With each new variant of COVID-19, antibody treatments lose their effectiveness in fighting and preventing infection. In fact, the current antibody treatments cannot even neutralize the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Additionally, antibody treatments are costly; difficult to manufacture, transport, and store; and can only be administered by a doctor. Due to these factors, low-resource settings are often left without antibody treatments, and patients are insufficiently protected from COVID-19. 

In contrast, nasal spray COVID protection treatments are more cost-efficient because they are cloned and cultured from the cells of living mammals. They are often produced in common microorganisms such as E. coli, and they stabilize in high-heat settings, so they are easier to produce than antibody treatments. Additionally, nasal sprays are typically self-administered.  

Researchers hope to soon see nasal sprays for COVID prevention available in pharmacies.

Spike proteins cover the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These proteins clasp onto human cell receptors and cause illness. 

Antibiotic treatments can prevent infection from occurring; however, are less effective against new and emerging variants. Even some therapies don’t adequately protect against the Omicron variant.  

However, with a single sniff of a nasal spray, you may find yourself immunized against COVID-19 and its variants.  

So far, the experimental COVID nasal spray has been effectively tested in mice, proven to prevent and treat COVID-19 infections. 70% of the mice that were infected with COVID-19 and treated with the N-0385 nasal spray survived with almost no lung damage. Mice were tested over a seven-day period with one dose a day administered.

Another test with the treatment course shortened to four days was also conducted. 10 mice were tested, and all survived. In contrast, only 1 in 20 mice that were given a saline solution survived.

A final test revealed that mice treated with a single dose of the nasal spray for COVID had a significant survival rate. The mice received the dose on the day of infection.

Once sufficient funds have been raised, human trials will start, and the practical effectiveness and safety of these nasal sprays will be tested.