While several countries across the globe are vying to create a vaccine against COVID-19, Iceland, a nation of fishermen, has come up with a possible solution of its own.
PreCold, a mouth spray intended to be used against the first symptoms of a cold based on cod enzymes, has proven efficient during tests and managed to deactivate about 98.3% of the virus that causes COVID-19, national broadcaster RÚV reported.
The spray creates a protective film in the pharynx where the viruses that cause the common cold tend to localise and replicate. The film using enzymes extracted from cod offal, weakens viruses so they fail to replicate to a degree that makes the host sick.
The spray has been around on the Icelandic market for five years and is a result of almost four decades of research, whose original aim was to find new uses for cod processing byproducts. As a result, the biotechnology company Zymetech made its debut in 1999. Its first product was a skin cream intended to improve the condition of dry and delicate skin.
In 2016, Zymetech merged with Swedish research company Enzymatica whose stock is traded on the Swedish stock market. Enzymatica sells the PreCold antiviral spray under a different brand name, ColdZyme.
As the efficiency of the spray against COVID-19 was tested by Microbac Laboratories in the US, the favourable results caused Enzymatica’s stock price to jump by 67%.
However, the promising results have so far only been reached in a laboratory setting. Whether the same rate of efficiency will be reached in people and minimise the symptoms of COVID-19 in real life remains to be seen.
Ágústa Guðmundsdóttir, PhD in microbial and molecular genetics and one of the two founders of the biotechnology company Zymetech, stressed that the firm wouldn't dare to encourage the use of the mouth spray at the moment, until definitely proven efficient.
Atlantic cod is a staple of the Icelandic fishing industry and the island nation's cuisine. It is by far the most important marine resource in Icelandic waters with no match in sight. For several centuries, salted cod was even the Icelandic coat of arms.