This Over-the-Counter Medication Can Kill COVID, Study Says

Research has shown that it is "effective at significantly reducing and nearly eliminating SARS-CoV-2."

The novel coronavirus has proven to be a formidable foe for the scientific community, especially when it comes to better understanding how it can be treated or stopped. Luckily, tireless research in the field has produced some promising results, including some vitamins and minerals that can potentially help prevent cases from becoming severe. But a new study has found that an over-the-counter medication has the ability to kill COVID, making it a possible weapon in the fight against the disease. Read on to see what researchers found about the medicine, and for more on what can keep coronavirus at bay, check out These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds.

A nasal spray has been found to neutralize the coronavirus.

Woman Using Nasal Spray For Her Cold

According to an in vitro study posted on Dec. 21 that has not been peer-reviewed, researchers from Northwestern University and Utah State University tested the effectiveness of an over-the-counter nasal spray known as Xlear Sinus Care against cultures of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID. Ingredients of the spray include 11 percent xylitol—which is a chemical compound typically used as a sweetener that study authors report has reduced the severity of viral infections—as well as .2 percent grapefruit seed extract (GSE) and .85 percent saline.

The results showed that after 25 minutes of contact time, the amount of active virus was dramatically reduced by the GSE and had been neutralized by xylitol. "Combination therapy with GSE and xylitol may prevent spread of viral respiratory infections not just for SAR-CoV-2 but also for future H1N1 or other viral epidemics. GSE significantly reduces the viral load while xylitol prevents the virus attachment to the core protein on the cell wall," the study authors wrote. And for more on what can keep you safe from a severe case of the virus, check out If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From COVID, Study Says.

Another small study found it to be effective.

Bottle of nasal spray

Other research has shown that nasal spray has effectively helped COVID patients fight symptoms, as well. A small case study out of Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami, Florida, analyzed three patients from various age groups who had tested positive for coronavirus. They gave each of them two spritzes of the XClear Sinus Care nasal spray per nostril every six hours. The results showed that each patient "demonstrated an improvement in the symptoms and a reduction in the clinical course post use of xylitol plus GSE in the form of a nasal spray, commercially available as Xlear nasal spray, as an adjunct to their ongoing treatment." They added that "this combination could play a potential role in improving the outcome in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients."

Still, the researchers point out that the limited case set meant that further study was necessary to be conclusive. "While relatively safe for general use, larger randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial studies are mandated which could shed further light on this topic," they wrote. And for more on how you can keep yourself safe from COVID, check out These Are the 4 Masks You Should Be Wearing Right Now, Experts Say.

Cleaning the nasal passages "may help reduce viral infections."

While further studies are needed, the researchers posit that the treatment, which is inexpensive, widely available, and poses relatively little risk with use, could provide a way to help prevent the spread of COVID by killing and otherwise inactivating the virus in patients' nasal passageways.

"Studies show that regular nasal cleansing may help reduce viral infections, including from the SARS-CoV-2 virus [which causes COVID-19]," Gustavo Ferrer, MD, of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, who was involved in both studies, said in a statement. "The concept is straight-forward: cleansing the nose means less virus, less virus produces less risk of infection." And for more regular COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Other potentially effective nasal sprays are also being developed.

Seasonal virus infection.

But Xlear isn't the only nasal spray that has shown promise in potentially combatting COVID. A team of scientists from the University of Birmingham in the U.K. are developing another over-the-counter spray that uses an antiviral agent and a thickening solution to neutralize the virus and trap it in the nasal cavity before it can be spread.

"It will be much quicker to get to the user than a novel drug," Richard Moakes, MD, a lead researcher focused on the new spray, told The Telegraph on Jan. 23. "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." And for more on things that might not actually protect you from the virus, check out These 2 COVID Precautions May Not Be Necessary After All, New Study Finds.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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