The coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and it makes us sick by latching onto cells in our upper respiratory tract, including our nose and throat. It’s no surprise, then, that scientists are working on a nasal COVID-19 vaccine to stop the disease where it begins.
Current injectable vaccines – including Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson in the United States – have been shown to be extremely effective in preventing serious illness and have saved around 20 million lives worldwide during the pandemic, according to an estimate by researchers from the ‘Imperial College London. . (The new authorizationwould have been left out of this equation.) But as we learned during the delta surge last summer, available vaccines do not block all COVID-19 infections, especially since the virus mutates into more contagious forms.
The researchers propose that nasal vaccines, however, might have a better chance of blocking infections and making people less contagious by working in the mucosa (the lining of the nose). Dr. Joel Ernst, professor of medicine and head of the division of experimental medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explained some of CNET’s Abrar Al-Heeti benefits.
“A nasal vaccine will also induce an immune response throughout the body, but it’s actually concentrated in the upper respiratory tract where the COVID virus, the SARS-COV2 virus, enters,” Ernst said.
Nasal vaccines (called “nasal spritzes” by Scientific American) have other advantages, including being easier to administer (there is no needle hazard or needle learning curve) and offering a more pleasant approach to immunity for about one in 10 Americans with needle phobia.
There is no COVID-19 nasal vaccine pending approval in the US market at this time, but the research looks promising. There are many nasal COVID-19 vaccines in development, according to Ernst, but most are in the very early stages of testing. A study in mice by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that the potency of nasal vaccination decreased at about the same rate as the potency of mRNA vaccination (Moderna and Pfizer). But the nasal vaccines started to work faster than the injection vaccines.
And the road to acceptance of a nasal COVID-19 vaccine has already been helped in part by the nasal flu vaccine on the market, FluMist Quadrivalent.
Ernst said many researchers are looking at nasal vaccines as boosters, and there are some production issues with them. But the future of nasal COVID-19 vaccines looks pretty bright.
In addition to development challenges, the fact that most people now have some immunity to COVID-19, either through vaccination or infection, makes it difficult to test an entirely new vaccine in clinical trials, Ernst explained. While we may have to wait a year or two for clinical trials and clearance for nasal vaccines to hit the market: “I think the outlook is pretty good for us to have nasal vaccines,” said Ernest.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.