Speaker 1: The Omicron variant of COVID 19 keeps morphing to create newer more contagious sub variance. BA five seems to be the most contagious version to date. And it's causing more reinfection in people who already had COVID 19 researchers are looking for new ways to combat these variants. And one of the most effective methods could be through a nasal vaccine. When you think of vaccines, you probably think of needles and injections. For some people, this can make getting shots like a COVID vaccine seem [00:00:30] daunting, but researchers are now working on a nasal COVID vaccine, which would be delivered through the nose instead of through needles and injections that would make a vaccinations quicker, easier, and more accessible. And for some people less terrifying, a nasal vaccine is exactly what it sounds like. It's one that's applied as a spray, or sometimes as drops into the notes. The benefit is that [00:01:00] it induces an immune response right there in the nose and in the deeper air passages. So at the point where the virus first enters an injected vaccine, on the other hand, goes into the muscle and then triggers an immune response all over the body.
Speaker 2: A nasal vaccine will induce an immune response all over the body too, but it's actually concentrated in the upper respiratory tract where the COVID virus, uh, that SAR two virus enter.
Speaker 1: There are already around a dozen nasal COVID vaccines in development [00:01:30] and a handful in clinical trials where they're being tested on large groups of people, according to scientific American. Some of these vaccines have already shown promising results. When tested in animals,
Speaker 2: A nasal vaccine can be administered. I mean, literally practically anywhere. You don't have to have a really, really high clean environment that you do with, with an injectable vaccine.
Speaker 1: If you get an injectable COVID vaccine or booster today, you'd need to go to a doctor's office or a pharmacy, but a nasal COVID vaccine [00:02:00] could potentially be administered at
Speaker 2: Home. It's a pretty simple procedure. It's basically holding the bottle up to your nose and squeezing, you know, it's made to be, it's made to be simple. In addition, nasal vaccines have the potential to actually block infection. And, and this is what we call sterile immunity. In other words, they have the possibility of just completely blocking successful entry of the virus into ourselves and into our bodies. [00:02:30] And that's something that the injectable vaccines that we have so far as amazing as they are, and as valuable as they've been, none of them really have that capability,
Speaker 1: Nasal vaccines themselves. Aren't anything new. The centers for disease control and prevention has approved nasal flu vaccines for use and healthy non-pregnant people between two and 49 years old. The us food and drug administration only approved use for people in that group because they were the only ones enrolled in clinical trials. [00:03:00] So if there are all these benefits to nasal vaccines, why haven't we seen more of them? Well, there are a few reasons. First of all, nasal vaccines are a little more challenging to produce since this is a bit more of an unfamiliar route. Developers have to make sure they're safe and effective. Also there have been some worrying side effects in other nasal vaccines, one nasal flu vaccine that was used in Switzerland in the early two, thousands was linked to Bell's palsy, a condition causing sudden weakness in the muscles on half the face that [00:03:30] on surprisingly led developers to shy away from making nasal vaccines, but research into a nasal COVID vaccine is promising one team at Yale.
Speaker 1: For example, noted that the RNA based injectable vaccines that have been used to fight COVID 19 have decreased effectiveness over time. They especially lack strength in the nasal cavity, mucosa and respiratory tract. The part of the body where the virus is most likely to cause illness and from which it's most likely to spread to others. The team suggests [00:04:00] an approach where after getting injections of an mRNA vaccine, people follow up with a nasal spray vaccine. This combination showed promising results in mice last year, the national institutes of health compared delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine to hamsters through the nose versus through the muscle. They found higher levels of antibodies against the COVID 19 virus in the blood. When hamsters got the vaccine nasally, the university of Oxford is now testing nasal vaccination in trials to determine safety [00:04:30] in humans. Ernst says it could still be a year or two before nasal COVID vaccines become available. One of the challenges with clinical trials is that so many people are now immune to the virus because they've either had COVID or been given one of the injectable vaccines. So it's harder to find people who haven't been exposed to test efficacy that said there are still plenty of variants giving researchers something to test against
Speaker 2: Like the earlier stages. There's a lot of COVID going on. [00:05:00] So if that's good news in a certain way, that means that it doesn't take as long to do the clinical trials to find out if, if a given vaccine works,
Speaker 1: Most researchers are looking at nasal COVID vaccines as boosters like injectable vaccines, nasal ones can be re-engineered to tackle different variants. One key factor that'll need to be worked out is the stability of these nasal vaccines. They need to be delivered widely across the globe, including in rural areas and parts of the developing [00:05:30] world, where there may not be the necessary refrigeration. That's been a hurdle for the distribution of mRNA vaccines too, though. There are ongoing efforts to make them more stable and deliverable. That's why other vaccines like the one from AstraZeneca, which is stable at room temperature are sent to more inaccessible regions of the world. If anything, a nasal spray could make getting vaccinated less intimidating to people within aversion to needles, which could bring us one step closer to tackling the pandemic.
Speaker 2: I do think [00:06:00] that there will be a segment of people who have been reluctant to be vaccinated so far that are more, more willing to say something that just sprays in their nose. And it's over with.