SCIENTISTS think they have found a novel way for people to protect themselves against Covid.
An experimental chewing gum could act as a "net" to trap coronavirus particles.
A study found this gum could limit the amount of virus in saliva and help stop transmission when infected people talk, breath or cough.
The special gum has copies of the ACE2 protein, which is found on cell surfaces.
The virus uses as a way to break into the cells and then infect them.
But in experiments, virus particles attached themselves to the ACE2 in the chewing gum, resulting in viral load in samples falling by more than 95 per cent.
The research team from the University of Pennsylvania reported in Molecular Therapy the gum feels and tastes like conventional chewing gum.
It can be stored for years at normal temperatures, and chewing it does not damage the ACE2 protein molecules, the researchers said.
Using gum to reduce viral loads in saliva , they suggest, would add to the benefit of vaccines and would be particularly useful in countries where vaccines are not yet available or affordable.
The gum is not available yet for general use, but is a promising step in limiting spread in infected people.
But the best thing people can do currently to protect themselves and others is make sure they are up to date with vaccinations.
Unless you are eligible for a booster dose, you can get your two shots to be protected over the winter.
If you have had both of these, are over 40 and are six months on from your second jab, you can book in for a booster shot.
Everyone able to get their extra doses have been urged to come forward, as it means they will be fully protected by Christmas Day.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting your Covid-19 booster vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter and will help reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“While the government is continuing to monitor a wide range of data to ensure the country remains protected, we have very sadly seen a surge in cases in parts of Europe.
“The most important thing we can do to stop a similar rise in this country is get the jab – so please get your vaccines as soon as you can so we can keep the virus at bay.”
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