A story at a glance
- A nasal vaccine could be another weapon in the arsenal against COVID-19.
- Early studies have shown promising results in terms of effectiveness.
- Recent research published in the journal Science Immunology suggests that combining mRNA vaccines with an intranasal booster vaccine provides significantly stronger protection against the virus when it enters the body through the airways.
As Americans continue to live with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a highly contagious version of the virus, researchers and public health officials are waiting for a new generation of vaccines.
Last week, federal health officials and vaccine manufacturers gathered at a White House summit on the future of COVID-19 vaccines, agreeing that there is a need for innovative vaccines that are more effective in preventing infections and protecting against potential variants.
The summit took place in the United States, both caused by two new types of coronavirus, the highly infectious omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Early evidence suggests that the subvariants are better at evading primary immunity, meaning people who are immune from vaccines or previous COVID infection are more susceptible to infection.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), advocated during the summit for “two pillars” of the next generation of vaccines, including the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine to help curb the spread of variants and the nasal vaccine. can be inhaled instead of injected.
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Currently, most intranasal COVID-19 vaccines are in the early stages of research. However, early studies have shown promising results in terms of effectiveness.
A viable nasal vaccine could be key in preventing the spread of the virus. While current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produce strong inductions in the blood and prevent severe disease, studies suggest that antibody responses may be absent in the respiratory tract where the virus enters the body, particularly when it comes to the omicron sublineage.
Recent research published in the journal Science Immunology shows that combining mRNA vaccines with an intranasal booster vaccine provides much stronger protection at the site of virus entry, thereby limiting spread and preventing the spread of infection.
“The Omicron variant almost completely escaped neutralization by mucosal antibodies in previously infected individuals who received mRNA vaccines,” said Ji Sun, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and one of the study’s authors.
“We think that strong antibodies in the respiratory tract can immediately neutralize the virus when it is infected, preventing viral infection from occurring and the transmission of the infection to others.”
For the study, researchers showed that mice given the mRNA vaccine had better blood antibody responses, but less mucosal immunity. However, when the nasal spray was administered, the researchers observed a “very robust” mucosal immune response against all SARS-CoV-2 variants tested. According to Sun, the use of vaccines in tandem can immediately stop the occurrence of viral infection.
“Because a lot of the population has gotten the mRNA vaccine or been exposed to or infected with COVID, what we need is probably to provide a nasal booster to really attract the pre-existing immunity to the mucosal layer. So we’re going to have something at the door that will immediately stop any bad guy from entering the building.” We will catch the guy,” San said.
Still, Sun cautioned that more research is needed, and it’s too early to tell whether the results seen in animal models translate to humans.
Many nasal vaccine candidates are under development, but most research is currently in the early stages and there have been very few human trials. Sun said it could be years before a pertussis vaccine is available to the public.
“We hope it works for people. Nobody knows now.”
published in August. 02, 2022