India is finally seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases after being hit by the number in crores during the first and second wave. In the fright of the third wave of this deadly virus, the administration of vaccines have become rapid.
In the seam of current ongoing research around the globe for various COVID-19 vaccines, there is one, which comes in the form of a nasal spray. Bharat Biotech’s ‘nasal spray’ vaccine which is India’s indigenous internasal vaccine has presently received the regulatory approvals for its phase-2 trials.
What is an Internasal Vaccine and How does it work?
An internasal vaccine is a type of vaccine which is administered to a person by the nose, instead of the usual injections. It is non-invasive, painless, economically cheaper, and easier to administer. Internasal vaccines are very much like a regular nose spray and the dose goes right into the respiratory tract. A vital and only example of internasal vaccine is the Live Attenuated Infleunza Vaccine [LIAV (FluMist) Vaccine].
Now that we all know the meaning of internasal vaccine, let’s go ahead and understand how it works. Since it is administered through the nose, it goes into the respiratory tract and works by inducing immunity through the inner surface of the nose or the respiratory pathway as the respitory pathway comes in contact with numerous microbes. It supposedly starts to work in about two weeks. The aim of this vaccine is to neutralize the virus in the nostrils itself so that the virus doesn’t get deep down into one’s system.
How is Nasal Vaccine different from other vaccines in regards to COVID-19?
Numerous microbes including the coronavirus enter the body through mucosa (tissue that lines the entire respiratory tract) and cause a response in the cells present in the nose, mouth, lungs, and digestive tract. The usual intermuscular vaccines do a lousy job at producing a reciprocal action for this mucosal response since its mechanism is basically creating immune cells elsewhere and transporting them to the site. The internasal vaccine however, helps make protein in the respiratory tract and increases immunity. So basically, internasal vaccine unlike other COVID-19 vaccines in India, targets the initial site of infection and causes a better and widespread immune response.
If an internasal vaccine dose is effective, it will help in preventing the contraction of COVID-19 as well as it will reduce the spread of the disease since it increases the immunity in the mucosal membrane.
Another advantage of the nasal spray vaccine is that it does not require health workers since it is not administered by a needle.
The 1st Internasal vaccine for COVID-19 in India
India’s first indigenous internasal vaccine has been developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Washington University school for the treatment of COVID-19. Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine known as BBV154 is also the first COVID-19 vaccine of its kind to undergo human clinical trials in India. The advancement of the vaccine has been supported by The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). It is a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SAES-CoV-2 vectored vaccine.
The BBV154 intranasal vaccine was discovered to be safe and immunogenic in the pre-clinical toxicity studies and was found to be able to obtain high level of neutralizing antibodies in the animal studies (has found to be effective in preventing infection in mice against COVID-19). It is a live attenuated vaccine which means it contains the weakened or inactive form of the virus itself. Phase-1 clinical trials for the vaccine have been completed in adults being over the age of 18 and that of below 60. They have been under observation since then. About 30 volunteers including doctors, their family members, and several others have taken the dose. According to the recent nasal vaccine update, the doses of the vaccine that were administered in Phase-1 to healthy volunteers have been well endured with no adverse events. Two drops of the internasal vaccine were put into each nostril of each volunteer. Total of eight vaccine drops in pairs of two were administered in the interval of 5 minutes to each person. The volunteers were then observed for over an hour before being allowed to leave. Later, saliva and blood samples were collected for testing and studying immunogenicity.
It is the first internasal vaccine that has received the regulatory approval for Phase-2 trials which are randomized and have commenced at Prakhar hospital in Kanpur which is the only center where trials of nasal vaccine against COVID-19 are being done. The Bharat Biotech internasal vaccine can be a game-changer if it proves to be successful, as it can boost India’s vaccination drive. This vaccine is presumed to be appropriate and convenient to be administered in children.
The manufacturer of Covaxin- Bharat Biotech is expected to produce about ten crore doses of its nasal vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year. In its Phase-3 trials, covaxin has shown 70-80% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 and about 90-95% against severe COVID-19.
Various other countries such as China, The United States, and Netherlands have been conducting research for the nasal vaccine against the deadly COVID-19. The nasal vaccine update from around the world is that China approved the trial phase for the nasal vaccine in September.
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