Researchers Work to Develop Cough Drop to Help Slow Spread of COVID-19

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A recent warning from more than 200 scientists says that COVID-19 may be more infectious than previously thought. The warning states that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air by particles that can linger for hours.

Now, a team of researchers has found a solution to these aerosols and it all starts with changing the way people spit.

A single cough or sneeze can send hundreds of particles that may carry the coronavirus into the air.

"If we could reduce the amount of droplets that are sustained in the air, I think it would be an effective measure," explained Michael Kinzel, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Central Florida

Is a cough drop the answer? The team is developing a product similar to a cough drop that would thicken saliva particles and make them heavier when released during a cough or sneeze.

"Then they will tend to fall down rather than transmit to the next person," Kinzel said.

Using high-speed cameras, they use over-the-counter ingredients to test which would work best for their cough drop.

"Corn starch or peanut flour or agar agar, for example. These are good thickeners," said Kareem Ahmed, Ph.D. assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.

The team said it expected their cough drop to last about 20 to 40 minutes for a trip to a grocery or a short flight. They also said the combination of their cough drop and a mask could decrease the space needed between people.

"It could bring the distance down to 2 feet, about a third of the CDC's guideline distance," Ahmed said.

"Have people interact with each other more," Kinzel added.

And bring back a little normalcy.

The team hopes to make the product available to the public by the end of the year. They received a $200,000 National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research award to make that possible.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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