Easy to use, more effective and cheap, nasal Covid vaccines can be game-changer: Scientists

Holding out the promise of preventing even mild infections and blocking transmission, mucosal vaccines may well be a game changer for the Covid pandemic, say scientists as Indians gear up for the world’s first intranasal preventive.

A nasal, non-invasive and cheaper alternative to injectable vaccines could be just what is needed in a world battling a waning and waxing Covid wave with new variants throwing up challenges at every step, the experts said.

Earlier this month, Bharat Biotech announced that its iNCOVACC (BBV154), the world’s first intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for restricted use in emergencies for those 18 and older. The vaccine is yet to be marketed. By prompting an immune response where the virus first enters the body, researchers believe mucosal vaccines may prevent even mild cases of illness and block transmission to other people, something current COVID-19 shots are unable to do. “This pandemic has been dragging on because new variants continue to emerge that are capable of causing a lot of infections and transmission among people who were already vaccinated,” said David T. Curiel, a professor at Washington University.

“A nasal vaccine may be what we need to finally break the cycle of transmission,” Curiel said in a statement.

Immunologist Vineeta Bal agreed, explaining that intranasal vaccines are supposed to produce antibodies locally, i.e. in the upper respiratory passage, the entry point for SARS-CoV2. Because of their presence, the virus is supposed to be ‘neutralised’ immediately after entry without letting it gain foothold by entry in the cells and reproducing.

“This means early clearance of the virus from the body before its spread to lungs and other organs is a distinct possibility and an advantage over other intramuscular injectable vaccines,” Bal, from Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), said.   Source: PTI

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