New Delhi: As India waits for more vaccine approvals, several experts, including NITI Aayog, believes that the big game changer required to help end the pandemic is a nasal vaccine. A nasal vaccine is given by the nose, rather than a needle through your arm. Its target is to directly deliver the dose to the respiratory pathway, much like a nasal spray.
Some benefits that make this kind of vaccine stand apart include the fact that this is a non-invasive vaccine. This means that there are no needles required to take the dose of this vaccine and it does not need health workers to administer.
Furthermore, the intranasal vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine, which means it uses a weakened form of the germ, as per a study from the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. When it is given through the nose, it gets absorbed in the mucus membrane, present in the upper throat. Thereafter, it will be able to develop antibodies, since it enters the mucus membrane directly, the absorption is much faster. It helps develop an immune response in the nose, which is the point of the virus entrance, the study explains.
Another reason why it is considered as a gamechanger is that this vaccine is not only going to build immunity but will also give protection from the virus and prevent the spread; unlike the regular vaccines.
Globally, there are about four intranasal vaccines undergoing phase 1 and phase 2 trials at the moment. In India, Bharat Biotech has applied for phase 1 trials.
As per the company’s official statement, the vaccine has demonstrated promising efficacy in mice and hamster so far; and these species showed immunity with a single dose. Furthermore, it has shown superior protection than the one or two doses of the intramuscular vaccines.
The intranasal vaccine requires only a single dose of 0.1 ml, using a spray in each of the nostrils. With this, a large number of people can be immunised and there will be no need to carry two rounds of vaccine administrations.
Bharat Biotech, in their statement also said that the trials for the intranasal vaccine could begin in February. The statement read,
Based on the preclinical animal safety data, we have applied for permission for the nasal vaccine to DGCI. Upon receiving permission for the phase 1 trials, we are expecting to begin the process in February.
Earlier in December 2020, Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director, Krishna Ella, in a session of TiE Global Summit, had said that the clinical trial for this vaccine will be much faster as it is going to be a single-dose vaccine.
Dr Faheem Younes, Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland tells NDTV that it is a good invention because the nasal vaccines provide immunity at the point where it is needed. He said,
To simplify, if you leave the house, you want to leave through the front door, because that’s where somebody is going to come in from. You don’t lock every other door or window. So regular vaccine essentially provides immunity to the whole body, however, nasal vaccines provide immunity to the exact surface where the virus is going to enter from. The advantage is that it is very easy to administer, may not require a cold chain, may not even require a nurse or a needle stick as you can just squirt it in the nose.
However, Dr Younes points out, that it is not the time to be very excited about the news. He highlights that we are not aware of its efficacy so far.
It’s a long way to go. Phase one trials have just started, and the vaccine has only been tested on animals. But I think why it is good news because we’re going to need multiple types of vaccines to be able to give everyone in the world access to vaccines. This vaccine also has potential for children and we all want the schools to be open, so I see that niche market where people in the developing world can really benefit from it.
Talking about the ease of administration, Dr Younes says that one day, these vaccines can be used easily for vaccine drives, where it can be used on 5,000 children, which is something other vaccines would not be able to provide considering their requirement for cold chain.
The best timeline according to me is six to 12 months, some people may think it’s too late, but it is not. This pandemic, in my opinion, is not going away anytime soon. In some countries, yes, but I don’t see it completely going away in 2021. It will be great to have multiple options.
At present, more than 50 lakh healthcare and frontline workers in India have been vaccinated against coronavirus in 21 days, as per Minister of State for Health, Ashwini Choubey. He also claimed that till January 26, a total of 200 lakh doses of ‘Covishield’ and 28.03 lakh doses of ‘Covaxin’ have been supplied.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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