How a commonly prescribed device could stop you catching Covid on a night out

USING a medicine prescribed to millions before leaving the house could reduce your chances of developing Covid. 

Exposure to Covid is highest when indoors and in crowded places – but thanks to a new treatment, nights out and concerts might be as safe as a walk in the park. 

The treatment could also help once someone had already developed the virus, researchers said

The treatment could come come in the form of an inhaler, a medical device used by millions with asthma.

It works by changing the genetic data in the lungs to prevent Covid taking hold.

The inhaler would work by sending nanoparticles down to the lungs to knock down an enzyme which allow viruses, including Covid, to take over host cells.

Without the enzyme — known as “cathepsin L” — scientists from Duke University School of Medicine said Covid would struggle to develop in the human body.

Professor Qianben Wang, senior author of the study which looked into this potential treatment said: “Our results suggest that the technology represents a unique strategy for controlling a coronavirus infection and should be pursued as a potential approach for treating Covid.”

Researchers suggested the inhaler could be be self-administered as a preventive measure prior to or shortly after risky Covid activities, including a large gathering, event or flight.

As it stands, the therapy has only been tested successfully in animals – however, researchers are hopeful they can move to human trials “in the near future”.

Results of the study suggested the nanoparticles not only worked to prevent infection, but also as a treatment once someone had already developed the virus, researchers said.

“Covid-infected animals showed that the treatment decreased their viral load and stopped the immune storm that triggers lethal cases,” the authors said.

“Treated animals had higher survival rates”, they added.

Currently, the treatment is only delivered through an IV, though Prof Qianben said they hope to redevelop it to be ingested through inhalation.

The effects of the treatment have no long-lasting impact on the body, and are only likely to last for a few days at most.

Meanwhile, scientists have found that most people who have been infected by the Covid Omicron variant were not aware they had it and so probably helped spread it.

There have been calls for Brits to be forced back into isolation if they get Covid have been made – as scientists say people are still infectious after five days.

Self isolation periods were previously scrapped after a mammoth vaccine rollout across the UK.