Nasal sprays as a defense against Covid

Let’s start with some stuff that may be useful before we let ourselves have any fun. (Dessert comes last, kids. Eat your liver.) Some nasal sprays not only minimize the chance of catching Covid but may be also a useful treatment if you do get it.

New discovery? Only to me, it turns out. They’ve been around a while and the earliest study I found dates back to 2020–relatively early in the pandemic, when precious little in the way of protection was available and many front-line medical workers took to using them.

The sprays use iota-carrageenan. The bit I’m about to quote (it’s from the link just above) uses a brand name for the stuff. “Carragelose is a sulfated polymer from red seaweed and a unique, broadly active anti-viral compound. It is known as a gentle yet effective and safe prevention and treatment against respiratory infections. Several clinical and preclinical studies have shown that Carragelose® forms a layer on the mucosa wrapping entering viruses, thereby inactivating them, and preventing them from infecting cells.”

Got that? The useful words are “anti-viral,” “effective,” and “safe.”

Irrelevant photo: primroses

“Seaweed” isn’t particularly important but it is interesting. I’ve never squirted seaweed up my nose before. At least not while sober.

How often do you use it as a preventive? One study had medical workers using it four times a day, and it did decrease the odds of their catching Covid.

Another study had people using it three times a day and measured the number of people with Covid antibodies. By that standard, it was 62% effective. It also found that people who used the spray were less likely to develop symptoms than people in the control group. 

A third study reported the stuff to be 80% effective. It also describes Carragelose as a derivative of red algae. Don’t ask me. The article explains the mechanism this way: “The natural active ingredient forms a protective film as a physical barrier and prevents viruses from infecting the mucous membrane by introducing their genetic information into the membrane cells and propagating.”

The early studies were limited by the lack of testing early in the pandemic. They couldn’t be sure that they hadn’t included asymptomatic carriers or people already in the early stages of symptomatic Covid, leaving the numbers a bit wobbly.

The spray is effective against other viruses as well. It’s available under a number of brand names. Ask Lord Google about iota-carrageenan nasal sprays to find out what’s available wherever you live. 

Having read all that, I rushed out and bought a set of hers-and-hers nasal sprays for the household and started using mine in–well, in the random way that you (or at least I) do when you’re defending yourself against an invisible enemy. Is it here? Is it there? Is it under the piano? We don’t have a piano, but what level of human density demands that I shoot seaweed up my nose? I didn’t stop wearing a mask, since 60 to 80% is not 100%, although, damn, I was tempted. And as luck would have it, I now have Covid. That’s not what you’d call a ringing endorsement. It’s also a damn good example of irony. But I’m a sample of 1, which is to say, I’m not statistically significant, even if I am somewhat significant to my own self. I’m not sure where or when I caught it, so I don’t know if I was using the spray at the time. Quite possibly not.

I’m now using it in the hope that it’ll keep the case milder than it might be without it. I’m on the mend and expect to be in the clear  soon. I was pretty addled for the first couple of days (that still qualifies as a mild case) but I’m functional enough now to update and post this, although I’m not sure how competently I’ve done it. Whether nasal seaweed has anything to do with my rate of improvement  we’ll never know, since you don’t get to go back, pick a different path, and compare outcomes. 

Make your own decisions, folks. I’m not here to sell you anything.


Long Covid news

This is a bit tentative, but research suggests (sorry–we can’t use a stronger verb there) that vaccination may make long Covid shorter and less severe. The problem is that studies weren’t able to set up randomized trials. Too many people they had access to had already been vaccinated. But several studies hint that “Covid-19 vaccines might both protect against, and help treat, the symptoms of long COVID, with the proviso that more good quality evidence is needed.”

It’s not a smoking gun, but then we weren’t actually trying to shoot anyone.

A different study says that the omicron variant is less likely to lead to long Covid than the initial variant–what they call the wild-type virus, as if we’re in the process of domesticating this beast.

I don’t know. Maybe we are. 

The study has its limits, one being that long Covid can only be diagnosed by checking off a series of symptoms–there’s no test for it. The other is that the participants were mostly young and healthy. But for what it’s worth, where the initial version left people who had Covid 67% more likely to develop long Covid symptoms than the uninfected, omicron leaves the two groups equally prone to them.

Which if you read the fine print says other things can cause the symptoms of long Covid–another thing that makes it so damn hard to measure.

And finally, a study reports that having Covid can lead to face blindness–called prosopagnosia if you’re trying to impress someone. It’s counted as one of a range of neurological problems long Covid can cause. The good news for me is that I don’t have to worry about that one–I’ve had it for years.

Ha. Fooled you there, Covid.


And finally…

…for dessert, we get to have the fun I promised. Some genius has developed exactly the thing a pandemic-haunted world has been longing for–glow-in-the-dark Covid tests

Yes, kids, if your Covid test runs away, all you have to do is turn out the lights and there it’ll be, glowing away under the armchair. 

Life is good. Or if it isn’t, exactly, it usually beats hell out of the alternative.