The nasal spray, Taffix, coats the inside of the nose to stop the infection in its tracks and creates a more acidic environment for viruses like Covid-19 to survive
A readily-available nasal spray may have prevented Jews from catching Covid at a religious festival in Israel last year, a study has suggested.
The £51 spray, called Taffix, is said to coat the inside of the nose in an acidic powder that makes it difficult for viral particles to penetrate.
The densely populated city of Bney Brak saw its infection rate soar from 18 per cent of the population to 28 per cent following the Jewish new year last September.
But among a small group of Orthodox Jews who were given the nasal spray, which is available in the UK on Amazon, none contracted the disease.
Makers of the nasal spray, Nasus Pharma, along with scientists from the University of Haifa and the University of Virginia looked at 243 people in total for the research.
Of the 81 worshippers who agreed and used the spray correctly every five hours, none got infected. In the rest of the group, 16 did, including two who didn’t follow the proper dosing regimen.
Despite not being subject to the same rigour as a controlled scientific study, it provides one of the largest real-world tests of the sprays – which some scientists believe could play an important role in fighting the pandemic.
However, the researchers warned the nasal spray is not a substitution for face masks or social isolation and should be used as an ‘addition’.
Jewish worshippers pray in an outdoor synagogue amid the pandemic ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, on September 17, 2020 in Bnei Brak, Israel
Taffix is available to buy on Amazon and from the company’s website with a box of four nasal sprays, each containing around 200 pumps, costing £51.
It recommends people ‘use a few minutes prior to entering public spaces’ and claims to block 97 per cent of airborne viruses in the nasal cavity – the air-filled space inside the nose.
Public health officials grew increasingly concerned about the risk of Covid last September when the Rosh Hashanah holiday approached.
Covid cases are now spreading fastest among primary school children and young adults
Coronavirus is now spreading the most among primary school children and young people, according to the results of the surveillance study.
The data — from Imperial College London’s REACT study — showed that prevalence fell across all age groups.
But Covid is now most prevalent among five- to twelve-year-olds and those aged 18 to 24, with around 0.85 per cent of everyone swabbed in those age groups testing positive.
For comparison, the rate was around 0.3 per cent for the over-65s.
Experts warn that reopening schools would need to be done ‘carefully’ in light of the study data.
The relatively high number of children still attending school could be behind the high frequency in young people, it was suggested, the Guardian reports.
They were particularly concerned about the Orthodox Jewish community.
CEO of Nasus Pharma Dalia Megiddo told The Times: ‘This is a community that has different priorities and values.
‘Although the government tried to explain and to enlist opinion leaders, it was very clear they were going to go to the synagogue come what may. So we said, ‘OK, this is going to be a super-spreader event.’
Dr Megiddo enlisted the help of her colleagues and got in touch with the rabbi in Bney Brak to offer their spray at what was considered a ‘super-spreader event’.
Dr Megiddo also said the volunteers could have been more diligent with hygiene while using the spray but said it was unlikely this could fully explain the findings.
Meanwhile scientists at the University of Birmingham have been developing a nasal spray – which is currently unnamed – since April last year.
The nasal spray is made from ingredients already approved for medical use, meaning it does not need any further approval for use.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph last month, lead researcher Dr Richard Moakes said he is confident the spray could help lift social distancing restrictions and reopen schools.
He added: ‘As an over the shelf product, we have spoken to companies with a presence on the high street as we think they could distribute it effectively.
‘Our goal is to make an impact as soon as possible, we would really like to see this happen by summer.’
The spray prevents infection by capturing the virus in the nose and coating it. This means the virus cannot escape and renders the it inactive and harmless.
The researchers believe using the spray four times a day will be enough for general protection.
However, it is safe enough to be applied every 20 minutes if required, for example, if a user is in a high-risk environment.
The news comes after it was revealed that a virus lab at St Peter’s hospital, Surrey, announced they were trialling a spray which could kill 99.9% of the virus.
The SaNOtize Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) is designed to kill the virus in the upper airways.
This stops the virus from incubating in the lungs, according to the NHS.
It was developed by SaNOtize Research and Development Corp. based in Vancouver, Canada.
In independent lab tests, they proved it was 99.9 per cent effective in killing the virus.
Pankaj Sharma, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Royal Holloway, said: ‘Any intervention for treating coronavirus – the virus responsible for Covid-19 – is to be welcomed.
‘The fact that a relatively easy and simple nasal spray could be an effective treatment is welcome news and offers a significant advance in our therapeutic armoury against this devastating disease.’