Why A New COVID Nasal Vaccine Could Become A Game Changer

The development of COVID-19 vaccines prevented 14 million cases, 1.1 million hospitalizations, and more than 240,797 deaths between December 12, 2020, and June 30, 2021, according to 2022 data published in the JAMA Network. The next generation of vaccines — including nasal versions — offer even more promise in the fight against COVID, according to NBC News.

Currently, there are four approved mucosal vaccines in China, Iran, Russia, and India, according to Nature. China's vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics, is a nasal vaccine and contains the same viral vector ingredients as its shot. They are turned into a liquid form by a nebulizer. Phase 2 trials from CanSino show that when the spray is used as a booster, it raised blood-serum antibody levels more than a booster shot. This suggests that it may offer just as much — if not more — protection than a shot. That said, the company has not published phase 3 trials, and more research is needed.

Nasal vaccines are a first line of defense

A nasal vaccine for COVID-19 might be a game changer when it comes to fighting the spread of the virus. It targets the mucus membranes in the nose, mouth, and lungs, where most germs enter the body (via Nature). Michal Tal, an immunologist at Stanford University, told NBC News that people need a mucosal immune response to successfully fight infections. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) explains that nasal vaccines could play a vital role in keeping COVID under control, per MedicalXpress. Mike Ryan, WHO emergencies director, said that nasal vaccines offer a "first line of defense" and they "may offer us a much stronger prospect of control of COVID in the long run," per MedicalXpress.

There are no nasal vaccines approved for use against COVID in the United States, but experts are working to develop them. Many are still in the preclinical stages or in the early stages of clinical trials.