It was further found that while masks were able to reduce the large particles FEND, made by Boston-based technology startup Sensory Cloud, was more effective in reducing the smaller particles
A COVID-19 patient can generate infectious aerosols while sneezing, coughing and even singing. Aerosols are tiny droplets that are believed to travel up to six feet in the air and cause infection when they come in contact with a mucous membrane of a healthy individual. In order to control the spread of COVID-19, people have been asked to wear three-layered masks (surgical mask, N-95 masks or homemade face mask) and maintain physical distance.
Since masks can only prevent transmission to a certain degree, scientists have also suggested the use of oral and nasal povidone-iodine, in addition to wearing masks, to reduce viral load in the nose and throat, thus minimising the risk of transmission.
In a recent paper published in the Molecular Frontiers Journal, scientists have discovered a more effective way of eradicating aerosols from the nasal passage by using a calcium-rich saline solution. The scientists conducted three different studies to reach their conclusions.
First study: Using FEND against aerosols
FEND is a drug-free nasal saline solution made up of calcium chloride and sodium chloride mixed in distilled water. The solution, made by Boston-based technology startup Sensory Cloud, is believed to reduce the infected airborne particles from airways.
Researchers from Cambridge and Massachusetts assessed the effect of nasal inhalation of FEND on exhaled aerosol in a study which included 76 participants at No Evil Foods in Asheville, North Carolina.
The participants were divided into three categories on the basis of the amount of aerosols exhaled; people who exhaled greater than 850 particles per litre of air, those who exhaled 250 to 850 particles per litre and those who exhaled less than 250 particles per litre of air.
Before these participants were given FEND, the scientists found that the first two categories of participants were super-spreaders as they contributed to 80 percent of the total exhaled particles produced. Also, out of these super-spreaders, the ones who exhaled over 850 particles per litre of air contributed to 64 percent of the overall aerosol production.
All the 76 participants were given FEND in the form of a mist of 9 to 10-micron diameter droplets with the help of a hand-held mister.
The results of the study showed that after giving FEND, there was an 84 percent reduced aerosol exhalation in the people who were earlier exhaling over 850 particles. Also, the overall exhaled aerosols reduced by 78 percent in the super-spreader group.
Second study: Use of FEND in reducing aerosols in a COVID-positive patient
The second study was conducted to find out the effect of FEND on the reducing aerosol release in a group of four people living in the same house, which included a 51-year-old woman with COVID-19, her husband (54 years) and two children (14 and 16 years). In the study, the scientists examined the family for five days, starting from eight days after COVID-19 symptoms started to appear.
On Day 8, the COVID-19 patient self-administered FEND and examined the exhalation of aerosols. It was found that the amount of aerosols reduced significantly for the following four hours. The patient further self-administered FEND on the 9th and 10th day and found that the aerosol levels reduced to average baseline levels that are seen in a COVID-19-negative patient.
Third study: Use of FEND against surgical masks
In the third study, scientists compared the use of FEND against surgical masks in 12 children and adults. Out of these 12 participants, three were found to be super-spreaders.
Use of FEND reduced the exhaled particles in two of the three super-spreaders by 98 percent and 82 percent, respectively, while it was reduced by 93 percent and 76 percent by the use of masks.
It was further found that masks were able to reduce the large particles while FEND was more effective in reducing the smaller particles.
The scientists concluded that FEND can be an effective addition to the present COVID-19 protection measures such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands. FEND can improve the efficacy of masks, which help in preventing the entry of the virus into the airways and lungs.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19: Droplet transmission.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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