‘Antiseptic throat spray, malaria drug may curb Covid spread’

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Using a type of antiseptic throat spray, and an oral drug used to treat malaria and arthritis, have been found effective in curbing the spread of coronavirus, according to a new study.

The six-week long study, led by researchers from the National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore, involved more than 3,000 migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar living in Tuas South dormitory, the Channel News Asia reported.

The results showed that among those who used throat spray thrice a day, only 46 percent contracted the disease. This is compared to 49 percent among those who took hydroxychloroquine and 70 percent who took vitamin C.

The two drugs were chosen because they are easily available, said Seet, adding that they protect the throat, the “key entry” for viruses.A The findings are published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the report said.

“We concluded that povidone-iodine throat spray was associated with a statistically significant reduction in infection by an absolute risk of reduction of 24 percent while oral hydroxychloroquine was associated with a statistically significant reduction in infection by an absolute risk of reduction of 21 percent,” lead author Raymond Seet, Associate Professor at the NUH was quoted as saying.

However, the researchers stressed that the drugs are not meant to be used for Covid-19 prevention in the general community if it is a lower-risk setting, the report said.

“This is a very simple intervention with virtually minimal side effects where we could actually cut the transmission rates in a meaningful way,” Mikael Hartman, Associate Professor from the NUH was quoted as saying.

“This is the first study to demonstrate the benefits of prophylactic, or preventive therapy with either oral hydroxychloroquine or povidone-iodine throat spray in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection among quarantined individuals living in a closed and high exposure setting,” Seet said.

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