Researchers from the University of Central Florida are looking to develop a special cough drop or lozenge that could help control the spread of COVID-19 by altering a person's saliva.
The idea is that COVID-19 transmission would go down because this specially-designed cough drop made with candy or corn starch would make saliva heavier and stickier, which would help sneeze and cough particles fall instead of float in the air, according to a press release on the project.
The team recently received a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research Award for $200,000 for their project.
"Based on our early data, coupling a face mask with saliva mixed with corn starch will potentially have us go from six feet to two feet for social distancing," said Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor in UCF's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and co-principal investigator, in a press release about the project.
This would be especially helpful in areas where social distancing isn't always easy, such as offices, grocery stores and public transportation.
They're using special high-speed cameras to look at the patterns and distance of sneeze and cough droplets, including those altered by candy or starch. The team's preliminary results have shown that changing the properties of saliva can lead to a significant reduction in how long a droplet stays in the air.