Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 15 January: A group of government scientists and health care professionals in Bangladesh have invented a nasal spray that reportedly kills coronavirus in the upper respiratory tract.
The Bangasafe Oro-Nasal Spray – jointly developed by a team of scientists from the Bangladesh Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements (BRICM), health care professionals, ENT specialists, physicians, and technologists – has been claimed to be safe, effective and helpful in reducing the viral load in a small trial.
Dr Mala Khan, acting director general (DG) of BRICM said: “The nasal spray has been prepared by using a molecule that is virucidal to CoV viruses and can destroy the virus or reduce the viral load that increases the chances of a patient being saved.”
She said: “The virus enters the human body through one’s eyes, nose, and mouth. And then it goes to the lungs and kidneys through the nasopharynx and oropharynx. It stays there for three to four days.”
“The medication [the nasal spray] could be taken through an individual’s nose and mouth. It can work for three to four hours and our solution can eliminate the virus residing inside the nose, nasal cavity, oral cavity and at the joints of respiratory digestive tracts.
“This spray will be effective for those who stay in close contact with Covid-19 patients and also for those who go to crowded places,” the acting BRICM chief further said.
According to BRICM, clinical trials for this potential life-saving drug were conducted on a total of 200 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) from May 1 and till October last year.
The lead investigator of the research initiative, ENT Specialist Dr Mostafa Kamal Arefin, said: “The thought for this nasal spray came from the successful medication of the molecule on Sars CoV and Mers Cov viruses.”
“However, this medication is not an alternative to masks or vaccines. Rather the spray will complement them. Using the spray after wearing masks and getting vaccinated would give extra protection to a person,” he added.
“Many countries are conducting research in this regard and Bangladesh is the first country to be able to complete a clinical trial,” he added.
Agreeing with him, Dr Mala Khan said: “France conducted trials on a similar kind of anti-Covid-19 nasal spray on five people. It was only after we had finished our trial process.”
“Those who participated in our trial have told us that they felt comfortable after taking the nasal spray,” added Dr Mala Khan.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the international media reported that the Canada-based SaNOtize Research and Development had initiated clinical trials of a drug similar to the invention of BRICM, Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS), against Covid-19 at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, UK.
Reports suggest that the same research attempts are underway in Australia and France in the fight against the deadly virus.
BRICM is expected to apply for the approval of its anti-Covid-19 nasal spray from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) on Thursday, said Dr Mala Khan, adding, “After getting this approval we will apply to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) for final approval.”
Earlier on Tuesday, BRICM had submitted its trial findings to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology Ministry, which instructed the researchers to prepare for another clinical trial of Bangasafe Oro-Nasal Spray.
When contacted, former DMCH director Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin – under whom the research had begun – said: “The next trial for the spray will be held soon following approval from BMRC.”
Asked about the price of the drug, Dr Mala Khan said: “The retail price of the spray will be similar to its production cost. This is something that we always try to do.
“A bottle of the Bangasafe Oro-Nasal Spray – which will be enough for a month’s use – is expected to be priced around Tk100.