We are in 2022, technically the world has entered into third year with the global pandemic of COVID-19 virus. The fight is still on in most parts of the world. And every now and then, we see a spike in the number of cases.
The current wave of Omicron variant which started as a variant of concern in South Africa has now reached almost 100 countries and many such as India, US, France and UK are witnessing a daily record surge in the positivity rate.
Dr Charu Dutt Arora, Consultant Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist
Head at Ameri Health, Asian Hospital, Faridabad believes that the international scientific fraternity worked their best to produce the conventional injectable vaccine against SARS COV-2 virus. However, due to a plethora of operational and logistical concerns, a chunk of our global citizens lie unvaccinated against this uncertain viral entity. While the pandemic evolves, many vaccination candidates have been bought to the platform using an expedited technology and better safety and efficacy. One such development is that of a novel intranasal vaccine against COVID-19 virus. She further shares her insight on the subject.
Recently, Bharat Biotech received a nod from the DGCI to conduct Phase III clinical trials for their BBV154 - a unique adenovirus vectored nasal vaccine against coronavirus.
There are many ways to administer a vaccine- the most common route being injectable. The conventional route produces a systemic immune response with the help of T and B cells which produce a lasting memory in fighting against the viral antigens. However, these injectable vaccines do not produce a subtle effect on respiratory shedding of the virus.
In contrast, the intra nasal vaccine is squirted directly into the nose and provides a check point at the very entrance of the virus in the human body. Such vaccines have been in place for more than 40 years for diseases such as Influenza.
How does an intranasal vaccine work?
An intranasal vaccine is game changer in the field of vaccination against COVID-19 virus. Studies done by Professor Iwasaki at Yale School of Medicine have shown very encouraging results in mouse models. This vaccine route provides a broad immunological response. It stimulates neutralizing IgG, mucosal IgA and a systemic T cell response.
How is it different?
Since the nose is the initial site of viral entry, transmission and replication inside the human body, intranasal vaccines acts like a policeman guarding this site. Our mucosal organs such as nose and gut lining produce a special antibody response called as IgA mediated response. The intranasal vaccine thus triggers a local immunity in addition to providing a good systemic response.
How is it better than the current vaccines?
Although many animal models have showed a favourable outcome of intranasal vaccines and sprays compared to the regular intramuscular vaccines, the results are still to be verified on human subjects. In addition, these inhaled models of vaccine delivery are encouraging on a logistical arena as well. Being non-invasive and needle free approach, it does not scare people and they can easily squirt the medicine inside their nasal passage. It is cost effective and requires no trained manpower for administration, thus facilitating the geographic coverage worldwide.
With a high compliance and low risk approach, if proven to be efficacious, this intranasal vaccine will be proven to be a turning point in our fight against COVID and its emerging variants.