Tackling Covid: How the Harlequins are defending themselves

  Posted: 22.05.21 at 11:26 by Eleanor Veness

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The Harlequins’ long-awaited return to Twickenham Stoop has seen the team make many changes to ensure players’ safety.

Alongside several changes at the stadium, the team has also started defending itself with a new nose spray, Viraleze.

The nasal spray will be used to combat multiple strains of the virus and also protects from other respiratory diseases including common colds, influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

Mike Lancaster, Harlequins’ Head of Medical Services, attributed the rugby club’s partnership with the product as a signifier toward a future open, post-lockdown society.

He said: “I think we’ve seen how important it is during lockdown for a lot of people to still have one sport to kick back in.

“Thankfully now the US is opening up as we talked about the women’s game this coming weekend, but it’s been a great inspiration for people to get together again, which is ultimately what’s sport’s about.”

The women's team returns to Twickenham Stoop this weekend (Image: Jess Broadbent)

Following an epic 48-46 win over Wasps on May 9, the Harlequins head into the climax of the English season with a real chance of finishing in the Top 4 and make the play-offs, which could see them compete for the title of English champions at HQ.

Lancaster said: “With the amount of steps that need to be taken in every facet of life with regards to COVID, the spray is another tool to mitigate the risk.

“The beauty about it is it also gives us protection against a broad spectrum of viruses: the cold viruses, the flu viruses, the seasonal variations.

“Not only the protection by covering the nasal cavity, but it also provides a level of risk mitigation for it.”

Lancaster said that the spray will be a useful tool when the team starts to travel again for matches.

The Harlequins have produced a video explaining what you can expect when visiting The Stoop (Screenshot)

He said: “If you think about it from a sporting context, we do a lot of travel, and especially when we need to start opening up, then we have to fly into Europe again.

“So the relative risk of picking up things on flights or airports or other areas when that starts is that if we are travelling to matches, nothing stops anyway.

“It's another indication to travel to just protect the nasal cavity by providing a moisture protective barrier and ultimately with the added ingredient to the lenders and borrowers that come in contact with inactive.”

On the game this weekend, he added: “We have an opportunity with which we’ve released both of our squads, environmental staff, along with all the protective measures we will put in place.”

On the community of sport, Lancaster said: “It’s a loud conversation. Sport can bring people together in a fantastic way and it can also be used to deliver messages and support different causes.”

The anti-viral nasal spray is developed by biopharmaceutical company Starpharma, and is the only nasal spray which contacts a specifically-designed antiviral active, shown to inactivate more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 within one minute.

The spray works by targeting the nasal cavity, which is also where the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 virus typically enters the body.

The active in VIRALEZE is astodrimer sodium, which has been studied in multiple viruses before and is already a component in products available worldwide, including in the UK and 27 EU countries.

The Astrodimer sodium works by blocking the interaction between the SAES-CoV-2 viral ‘spikes’ and human cells. The active is not absorbed into the bloodstream and provided a moisturising and protective barrier to keep the nasal cavity hydrated during use.


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