Public health experts agree that coronavirus intranasal vaccines, provided through the nose rather than through the muscles, maybe a possible game-changer in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic in India.
The nasal vaccine differs from two recently approved intramuscular vaccines, as it is non-invasive, needle-free, does not involve qualified healthcare staff, avoids needle-related hazards, suits children and adults, and has flexible development.
The clinical effectiveness of the intranasal vaccine has been shown to be superior to that of the injectable vaccine in many trials. In India, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has sought permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct clinical trials of its coronavirus nasal vaccine.
The Pune-based Indian Serum Institute and Codagenix Inc confirmed last month that they had obtained regulatory approval in the United Kingdom to launch an early-stage trial of their single-dose intranasal coronavirus vaccine.
“At the moment, four vaccines are undergoing phase 1 and 2 of nasal vaccine trials in the world. It can be a gamechanger but it all depends on whether it is safe and effective,” said Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR).
He said that referring to the benefits of the nasal vaccine, its administration requires no syringes and is easy to administer, transport, and store. “You can immunize a larger number of people in a small amount of time. There would be no need for people to come back for a second dosage,” said the noted epidemiologist.
“It is a live attenuated vaccine. When you give it through the nose, there is the mucous membrane in the upper throat, where it gets absorbed and is able to develop the antibodies. Since it enters the mucous member directly, the absorption is faster,” Kant said.
An intranasal vaccine, according to Bharat Biotech, activates a large immune response in the nasal mucosa at the site of infection, which is necessary for blocking both infection and Covid-19 transmission.
“Intranasal immunisation of can create an immune response in the nose, which is the point of entry for the virus-thereby protecting against disease, infection, and transmission,” the company said in a statement.
Anish Sinha, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, said that, particularly in countries with logistical problems, the intranasal vaccine can be a game-changer. “The ease of administration will be the biggest advantage. It can be utilized in larger numbers with lesser operational challenges,” he added.
Meanwhile, two intramuscular vaccines – ‘Covaxin’ from Bharat Biotech and ‘Covishield’ from Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India – were authorized for restricted emergency use on January 3. There are vaccines for two doses.