Trials of a cheap cold remedy sold at Boots are taking place to see if it can help in the fight against coronavirus.

A research study at Swansea University is examining the efficacy of Boots Dual Defence - a £5.99 nasal spray containing seaweed - in preventing people becoming ill with Covid and reducing the severity of any symptoms.

The trial involves 480 front line NHS workers, WalesOnline reports.

The preparation contains carragelose, a patented-version of iota-carrageenan (a form of seaweed).

It has already been found to shorten the duration and severity of cold and flu-like symptoms.

The study will also examine if it could also reduce the risk of being infected with the virus which causes coronavirus.

The front line workers are part of the study involving Boots Dual Defence nasal spray

Dr Zita Jessop, the clinical trial's principal investigator, said: "After seeing the effects of this pandemic on colleagues caring for patients with Covid-19, we wanted to find a way for research to help protect front line NHS staff.

"Previous studies highlighted the effectiveness of iota-carrageenan-based nasal sprays against coronaviruses, indicating promise against SARS-Cov-2, the virus which causes Covid-19.

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"If the results of this randomises placebo-controlled clinical trial are positive as we expect, this has the potential to add an extra prevention strategy in the fight against Covid-19."

Carragelose is generated from consumable red seaweeds occurring naturally throughout the world.

It acts as a barrier in the nose by forming a gel to trap cold and virus virus particles as they enter the body, therefore reducing the likelihood of infection or cutting the amount of virus entering the body and therefore reducing the severity of symptoms.

The human clinical trial follows a successful laboratory study, and is being carried out by Swansea Trials Unit, Swansea University and the joint clinical research facility at Swansea Bay University Health Board.

These results will be further validated in a new clinical trial, Ice-Covid, which will investigate whether dual defence can either prevent Covid-19 infection or reduce severity of symptoms in humans compared to a placebo.

Richard Evans, executive medical director at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: "Although the prospect of effective vaccines is now on the horizon, it's still vitally important that we explore all opportunities to investigate new treatments for Covid-19 and we're pleased to be playing a part in that global effort."