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Can nasal Covid-19 vaccines be game changers?

Can nasal Covid-19 vaccines be game changers?

A research published in mBio, an open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology last month showed that a needle-free mucosal bacteriophage-based COVID-19 vaccine is effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine named as iNCOVACC has received approval from the Indian drug regulator under 'Restricted Use in Emergency Situation' for 18 years old and above. (Photo: Reuters) Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine named as iNCOVACC has received approval from the Indian drug regulator under 'Restricted Use in Emergency Situation' for 18 years old and above. (Photo: Reuters)

With the launch of Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine against Covid-19, India has got the newest mode of immunisation, which has been dubbed as a game changer in managing the disease.

Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine named as iNCOVACC has received approval from the Indian drug regulator under 'Restricted Use in Emergency Situation' for 18 years old and above. iNCOVACC has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops. The nasal delivery system has been designed and developed to be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries, the Hyderabad-based company has said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last month said that current vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness and death, which they have succeeded in doing, saving millions of lives. However, they have not substantially reduced transmission. As the virus continues to circulate widely, new and dangerous variants are emerging, including some which reduce the efficacy of vaccines, it said.

The apex global public health agency said that it is fundamental to continue investing in research and development to make more effective, easier to administer vaccines, such as nasal spray products.

“A nasal vaccine can indeed be a game changer in fighting the Covid viral infection. The virus initially infects the nasal cavity then it affects the lungs another part of the body, it also stays in the nasal cavity and behaves as a constant source of infection to other people by spreading through nosocomial infection also called healthcare-associated infections (HAI) which are acquired while receiving healthcare in Nasal secretion and cough,” said Dr Rahul Sharma, Additional Director - Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital Noida.

Sharma explains that the nasal vaccine works by suppressing the broad immune response of the virus in the nasal cavity by neutralising IgG antibodies suppressing mucosal IgA antibodies and T cell response by doing so it decreases the chances of spread of this infection to other people which is the major challenge and the major cause of pandemic that has happened due to covid-19 virus.

Doctors have said the nasal vaccine will be easy to give and a higher uptake is also expected.

“Easy to give but also it will be non-invasive without needle prick pain-free and with very fewer side-effects vaccine in future can also be given to small kids,” said Sharma adding that there will be less burden on society in economy wise as better vaccinations lead to lesser chances of infection, severe disease, hospitalisation and mortality in future.

Scientists across the globe have been supporting nasal vaccines. A research published in mBio, an open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology last month showed that a needle-free mucosal bacteriophage-based COVID-19 vaccine is effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and mucosa is the inner lining of any organ such as the nose.

The researchers argued that current vaccines that are intramuscularly injected in 2 or more doses are effective in preventing covid-19, but they do not induce efficient mucosal immunity or prevent viral transmission. The scientists said that the nasal vaccine provided complete protection and immunity against the most lethal Delta variant in mouse models. Recently, China approved a nasal covid-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics in Tianjin as a booster dose.

iNCOVACC was developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Washington University St. Louis, which had designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vectored constructs and evaluated them in preclinical studies for efficacy. Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Government of India through the Department of Biotechnology’s, COVID Suraksha program.

Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule, as a heterologous booster dose (different from the first vaccine) for subjects who have previously received 2 doses of the two commonly administered covid vaccines in India.

Bharat Biotech has said that iNCOVACC has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant-specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunization to protect from emerging variants of concern.

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