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Thailand develops antibody nasal spray as latest shield against COVID-19

CNA – Thai scientists are developing an anti-viral nasal spray that could stop COVID-19 infections by neutralising the coronavirus when it enters the nose.

The spray is currently in the research and development phase.

It is a joint development by public and private sectors, including the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, which discovered the antibody used in the prototype.

“We conducted research and discovered antibodies, which are the immunity created by the human body to stop COVID-19,” said Assistant Professor Dr Nakarin Sirisabya from the Faculty of Medicine.

One of the antibodies was selected and designed to work outside the body, he added, unlike COVID-19 vaccines which have to develop immunity from inside the body.

The antibody-based spray stops the virus from infecting the body through the nose, believed to be the main entrance for COVID-19 to the respiratory system.

Traditional Thai dancers wearing face masks perform at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP

“So, we thought by using this antibody-based spray in the nose, the antibody will trap COVID-19 and prevent it from entering the body,” Dr Sirisabya explained.

Besides Chulalongkorn University, the partnership also includes the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, the Health Systems Research Institute, Silpakorn University and private firm Hibiocy Co Ltd.

Once clinal trials are completed, it will be registered with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, whose approval is needed to kick-start the manufacturing process.

The anti-viral nasal spray is designed to work with other COVID-19 prevention measures such as vaccination, social distancing and the use of facial masks.

“Right now, the immunity level from the vaccine might have dropped already and when it comes to mask wearing, people have increasingly begun to dine together and do more activities together. So, we realised there is a gap here, where the spray can go in and help,” Dr Sirisabya said.

Unlike the COVID-19 vaccine, he added, the antigen-based spray does not get absorbed into the body or stay effective for a long time on the surface.