Secret to slowing spread of COVID-19 could be chocolate developed by UCF researchers

UCF scientists study facial structure to determine risk of ‘super-spreaders’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Researchers at the University of Central Florida found a full set of teeth could make one more likely to be a super-spreader of COVID-19, so now they’re trying to develop a chocolate to help.

“One way to fight COVID is equivalent to making a bad combustion design,” said UCF Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Aeropace Engineering, Michael Kinzel.

Kinzel has conducted research with the university testing hypersonic vehicles in the rain, sprays for combustion and insulin pumps. During the coronavirus pandemic, his work has focused on the transmission of disease.

“If we pull this back to the real world, blowing your nose is actually a good thing to do in the context of social distancing,” Kinzel said for context.

The researchers used computer-generated models to analyze sneezes in different types of people with unique facial structure.

“We found that women tend to have less saliva that’s thicker, indicating that they’re less likely to transmit something like COVID,” Kinzel said.

A surprise finding, Kinzel said, was learning that people with a full set of teeth are more likely to spread germs.

“Like when you put your thumb on a hose it just shoots things out much further,” he said. “Teeth are non-favorable to social distancing.”

So how do we slow the spread of... spit?

The most recent plan, according to the researchers, is the development of a small chocolate.

“A chocolate that does exactly what the body does when we get sick, it makes our saliva thicker and reduces it,” Kinzel said.

Kinzel said his team plans to make the chocolates available for testing by the end of the year to offer a sweet solution to slow the spread of COVID-19.