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Simple saltwater solution ‘could help reduce early coronavirus symptoms’

An intervention that helps people have fewer coughs and less congestion could now benefit those experiencing Covid-19, scientists claim.

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The original pilot study had half of its participants gargling salt water (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The original pilot study had half of its participants gargling salt water (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The original pilot study had half of its participants gargling salt water (Anthony Devlin/PA)

A simple saltwater solution could help reduce early symptoms and the progression of coronavirus, new research has suggested.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh believe sea salt could boost the antiviral defence of cells that kicks in when you are affected by a cold.

The new study builds on a trial published in 2019, which found participants who gargled and cleared their nose with a saltwater solution had fewer coughs and less congestion.

The researchers will now investigate whether the same solution can benefit those with Covid-19 symptoms and are recruiting adults in Scotland to take part in trials.

It only requires salt, water and some understanding of procedureProfessor Aziz Sheikh

Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the university’s Usher Institute, said: “We are now moving to trial our saltwater intervention in those with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, and hope it will prove to be a useful measure to reduce the impact and spread of the infection.

“It only requires salt, water and some understanding of procedure so should – if found to be effective – be easy and inexpensive to implement widely.”

Half of the participants in the original pilot study – known as the Edinburgh and Lothians Viral Intervention Study, or ELVIS – gargled saltwater while the other dealt with a cold as they normally would.

Those joining the new trial will be asked to follow government advice on hygiene and self-isolation with one group again asked to gargle and clear their nose with salt water.

To find out more about the study and to take part, visit https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/elvis-covid-19.

PA