Are nasal vaccines the way to go for COVID?

Are nasal vaccines the way to go for COVID?
FILE PHOTO: A logo of China’s vaccine specialist CanSino Biologics Inc is pictured on the company’s headquarters in Tianjin, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), China August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter//File Photo

Last week, China became the first country to approve an inhalable version of the COVID vaccine. Instead of an injection into your arm, this vaccine is a spray given through the mouth or nose. It has the same basic ingredients as the shot (using a harmless version of the virus to teach your body how to ward it off), but it comes in a different package.

We’re with you, trypanophobes – this is great news!

But scientists think there might even be added benefits to taking the vaccine this way. See, when you get it through a shot, it teaches your immune system how to fight off the virus. But, the time it takes to produce this immune response means you may still get sick. But when you take it through your respiratory system, the actual way your body lets the virus in is alerted quickly and begins its own localized immune defense. Think of it as a sort of bouncer at the door.

One study found that taking the nasal version of the vaccine as the third dose after two injections is more effective than a third jab. But it’s also worth pointing out that these studies haven’t all been peer-reviewed yet, and there’s more research needed.

Key comments:

“These [types of vaccines] might be particularly important for China, because all over the world in the general population, we have a mixed type of immunity,” said Jin Dong-Yan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, “and (these vaccines) might be similar to natural infection in terms of inducing mucosal immunity.”

These new vaccines “can induce strong humoral, cellular and mucosal immunity to achieve triple protection and effectively contain the infection and spread of the virus,” said a news release by CanSino and Convidecia, the companies involved in creating this version of the vaccine.