Covid antiviral nasal spray could be on sale soon after Israeli approval and UK trial

New Zealand is also looking at whether to approve the drug for general use

People eat at a restaurant in Jerusalem's main market after authorities reopened restaurants, bars and cafes to "green pass" holders (proof of having received a covid-19 vaccine), on March 11, 2021.  / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND

Israel and New Zealand have given interim approval for the sale of biotech firm SaNOtize Research and Development’s nitric oxide nasal spray, which could help prevent transmission of the Covid-19 virus, the company said on Monday.

Manufacturing of NONS, under the brand name Enovid, has begun in Israel with SaNOtize’s partner Nextar Chempharma Solutions, and it is expected to be on sale there this summer.

If widely adopted and proven effective through public use, the nasal spray will be another useful tool in the anti-Covid inventory of two countries which have effectively responded to the pandemic.

Dr Eran Segal, a scientist at Israel's Weizmann Institute, said on Twitter that Covid-19 infections are still falling in Israel 40 days after the lifting of lockdowns.

The optimistic assessment on the country’s strategy of mass inoculation comes after the institute analysed the latest Covid-19 case data, where the R number is defined as the average number of people to whom one infected person will pass a virus.

In New Zealand, SaNOtize has registered its spray with the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, which permits the company to distribute and sell the spray over the counter immediately, the Vancouver-based company said.

New Zealand’s health ministry said it has not approved the product for use as an antiviral nasal spray.

The approval referred to by the company may relate to a notification made to the New Zealand Web-Assisted Notification Database operated by Medsafe, where medical devices for supply in the country are required to be notified.

This is not an application or approval process, New Zealand's health ministry said on Tuesday.

“The presence of an entry on this database does not confirm or imply that the product meets the requirements of the Medicines Act 1981,” it said. The ministry would follow up with the company, it said.

Last week, SaNOtize and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, UK, announced results of clinical trials showing that the spray was an effective antiviral treatment that could prevent the transmission of Covid-19, shorten its course and reduce the severity of symptoms and damage in those already infected.

Chris Miller, SaNOtize’s chief science officer, said its formulation of nitric oxide for use in humans was designed to “kill viruses in the upper airways, preventing them from incubating and spreading to the lungs”.

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