Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay
Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

Next generation Covid-19 vaccines could take the form of pills and nasal sprays

By Kelly-Jane Turner Time of article published Apr 28, 2021

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Cape Town – Leading vaccine developers are working to develop the next generation of Covid-19 vaccines in the form of pills and nasal sprays.

Clinical trials for an oral antiviral pill are already underway, said Pfizer’s chief of development and medical division Mikael Dolsten.

The intravenous antiviral candidate is a potential novel treatment option that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalised or in critical care.

“Tackling the Covid-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus. Given the way that Sars-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of Covid-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic,” said Dolsten in a statement.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla spoke to CNBC on Tuesday and said the oral vaccines provide several advantages and could be a “game changer”.

According to a company tracking the development of Covid-19 vaccines, FasterCures, five companies are developing an oral vaccine and 13 companies are developing a nasal spray vaccine.

Researchers from Altimmune are exploring the option of treating Covid-19 with a nasal spray, called NasoShield.

Results from the company’s Phase 1b trial evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of one and two-dose regimens of NasoShield in healthy volunteers.

“The trial enrolled 42 healthy subjects who received intra-nasally administered NasoShield or saline placebo and were then monitored for 6 months post-dosing. The primary endpoint was the safety and tolerability of NasoShield,” read an Altimmune press release.

A survey conducted in the United States (US) found that 23% of respondents do not plan to get vaccinated, however, nearly a third of them said they would if the vaccine were available as a pill instead of by a needle injection.

Quadrant Strategies conducted the online national survey of 1,500 Americans 18 and older in March.

Chief science officer, Sean Tucker, at biotechnology company, Vaxart, said it is not surprising that seven in 10 Americans prefer a pill to getting stuck with a needle and they would prefer taking a pill at home rather than going somewhere to get vaccinated.

“Needle injections present a barrier to getting people vaccinated and we have a solution that we believe will be effective and would allow people to avoid injections they don’t want to have,” said Tucker in a press release.

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