A nasal spray for norovirus: New drug reduces chance of catching bug by half
Development: The new nasal spray has been shown to halve the chance of catching norovirus
A nasal spray that protects against the winter vomiting bug is being developed by scientists.
It has been shown to halve the chance of catching norovirus and may be available in five years.
The bug is highly contagious and infects a million Britons a year.
The vaccine consists of a dry powder – inhaled as a spray – containing tiny amounts of the virus.
This helps the body trigger immunity without symptoms.
Early trials by U.S. scientists on 77 adults found it reduced the risk of developing the infection by 47 per cent, said the New England Journal of Medicine.
“This is a big development,’ said lead researcher Robert Atmar, of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas.
He added: “This is the first demonstration of protection in humans against what is a widespread and often serious illness.
“The number of hospitalizations and the healthcare costs associated with norovirus are staggering; a successful vaccine against norovirus would offer significant protection to patients as well as potential cost reductions for the healthcare system.”
Norovirus seen under a microscope. The bug causes nausea, sudden onset of vomitting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, cramps and fever.
The bug spreads particularly quickly through hospitals and can cause vulnerable patients to become very severely ill..
Figures from the Health Protection Agency show that last week 14 hospital wards were closed due to outbreaks, although this is normal for this time of year.