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China has approved for trials its initial nasal spray vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus that has claimed over 904,000 lives and infected more than 27 million people globally, official media here reported on September 10.
China’s only nasal spray vaccine against the coronavirus is anticipated to start phase I clinical trials in November, and it’s recruiting 100 volunteers. It is the only vaccine of its kind approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration, the state-run Global Times reported.
The vaccine is a collaborative mission between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland that involves researchers from the University of Hong Kong, Xiamen University, and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy.
Microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, Yuen Kwok-yung, said the vaccine stimulates the natural infection pathway of respiratory viruses to trigger the immune reaction.
The nasal spray vaccination could create double protection for vaccine recipients — influenza and the novel coronavirus if it also contains flu viruses such as H1N1, H3N2 and B, Yuen said, adding that it would take at least another year to complete the 3 clinical trials.
A Beijing-based immunologist told the daily that compared with injections, a nasal spray vaccination is much easier to administer and would also be easy to mass-produce and distribute as it adopts the mature influenza vaccine production technology.
The nasal spray vaccine uses live attenuated influenza vaccine; the other four specialized routes China is using to develop the coronavirus vaccines are inactivated vaccines, adenoviral vector-based vaccines, and DNA and mRNA vaccines.
The inactivated vaccine is estimated to be the oldest to be in the current market, the report stated. The immunologist said the new vaccine might not cause systemic side effects, but side effects may occur in the respiratory tract like asthma and shortness of breath.
Ideally, scientists don’t expect side effects except for minor sinus obstruction or rhinorrhea, Yuen said. It’s not yet clear whether immunity generated from nasal spray vaccinations will continue more than for injected vaccines, the report said.
China has approved three COVID-19 vaccine candidates for clinical trials. It has also authorised emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines developed by some select domestic businesses.
“We have drawn up a series of plan packages, such as medical consent forms, side-effects monitoring plans, rescuing plans, compensation plans, to make sure that the emergency use is well controlled and monitored,” Zheng Zhongwei, head of China’s coronavirus vaccine development task force told the official press here last month.
An emergency use authorisation, which relies on Chinese vaccine management law, allows unapproved vaccine candidates to be used among individuals who are at high risk of getting infected in a limited period.
The Global Times has reported that workers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) preparing to go abroad and the frontline medics have been offered two choices of domestic inactivated vaccine candidates developed by Sinopharm for urgent use.
The novel coronavirus, which originated from China’s Wuhan city in December last year, has claimed 904,485 lives and infected 27,902,002 globally. The US is the worst affected country with 190,887 deaths and 6,363,729 infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University data.