And if given the go-ahead, the SaNOtize nitric oxide nasal spray could be on sale across the counter for around £8 a bottle in a few months. The product is designed to kill the virus in the upper airways, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs.
Medical trials in Canada have already shown the spray has been able to stop COVID-19 from spreading through the body.
Experts, who describe the product as a “significant advance”, say it could be used as easily and quickly as hand sanitisers to protect users.
Dr Chris Miller, chief science officer and co-founder of SaNOtize, said: “Everybody just thinks you get the virus, and it gets into your lungs, and you die, but it’s a progression.
“First you get exposed to it, and the virus tries to attach to the cells in your nose, and it takes a while to incubate, and multiply in nasal cells for a few days and then the virus will shed into your lungs.”
“What we envision is cleansing the upper respiratory area at various points in the day.
“In the morning when you get up, where the virus has shed and started collecting in the back of your upper airway, that’s the first spray of the day.
“You can’t always control social distancing as we end lockdown, and so we have nasal sprays throughout the day.
“At the end of the day you come home and you spray to rinse your nose to clean your nose, your sinuses, and the back of your throat where these viruses initially reside.
The trials, at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, should be completed by the end of January.
The company has applied for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the USA for use by healthcare workers and will apply for C-19 emergency approval in the UK.
Hospital trials with nitric oxide are underway in America and Europe with seriously ill coronavirus patients inhaling the gas to kill the virus in their lungs and prevent progression to severe infection.
The importance of nitric oxide within the human body and its healing properties was first discovered by Professor Ferid Murad, of Stanford University, California, among others, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998.
The UK trial is being conducted by Pankaj Sharma, director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Royal Holloway, University of London.
“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,” he said.