Health experts are experimenting to find out whether gargling and flushing the nose with salty water might be an easy remedy to help combat the coronavirus.
Previously, a University of Edinburgh team found that using saline solutions cut common colds significantly by two days or more. Scientists are now beginning to conduct fresh trials to see whether it does the same for COVID-19 and recruiting volunteers for the COVID-19 ELVIS, Edinburgh and Lothians Viral Intervention Research trial.
ELVIS recruited healthy subjects within two days of them being infected with a type of upper respiratory tract virus referred to as the common cold. The adults were divided into two groups with one group directed to gargle and rinse their nasal passages with a salt solution. The other group were asked to deal with the cold the way they would normally do.
Results from this test were published in 2019, which discovered that people had less worse coughs, congestion and colds lasted only for two days after gargling the saline solution. The participants were found to also less likely transmit the virus to other people or to resort to taking medications.
Scientists suggest that salt may be taken by the human body's cells to create hypochlorous acid, which is bleach commonly known to kill the disease. According to Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the Usher Institute at Edinburgh University, the researchers are now proceeding to test their saltwater intervention in people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
"We hope it will prove to be a useful measure to reduce the impact and spread of the infection," Sheikh said, as quoted by Erika P of The Science Times.
Knowing how to treat the disease is still a grey area for many health experts, with people experiencing mild symptoms advised to maintain taking ibuprofen or paracetamol. Two antivirals have been given approval for the administration of NHS on very sick patients -- the steroid dexamethasone, and an anti-Ebola vaccine remdesivir - but none of the proved effective.
The Edinburgh researchers now want to confirm if the low-cost salt water alternative could help patients with mild infections and also keep them from getting more sick. The scientists want to test subjects as soon as they fall ill, only requesting those with exhibiting any of the main symptoms in the last 48 hours.
The trial is open to adults in Scotland who have shown symptoms of COVID-19 or have been found to have contracted the virus. All of them will be subjected to the salt water solution gargle test following the lockdown policies.