As the world seeks various solutions and interventions to halt the spread of COVID-19, experts say developing nasal spray vaccine against the viral infection will be economical and easier to administer, especially in the developing countries.
An Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, Prof. Adekunle Dunmade, told PUNCH HealthWise that having nasal spray vaccine against COVID-19 has lots of advantages.
Dunmade spoke against the backdrop of ongoing study in the use of nasal spray for COVID-19 prevention.
The study, by Canadian scientists, shows over 95 per cent reduction in the virus among infected rodents within the first day of the nasal spray administration after infection.
The nasal spray is undergoing phase-two clinical trials throughout Canada.
Experts say the nasal passage has often been used as a way to administer medicines, or vaccines.
According to reports, the first clinical trials of the spray also commenced in the UK on January 11.
Scientists, in a study published online in BioRxiv, report that a nasal spray vaccine against the new coronavirus shows promise in animal testing.
BioRxiv is an open-access preprint repository for the biological sciences.
In the trial, rodents that were given two doses of the vaccine had antibody and T-cell responses that were strong enough to suppress SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The vaccine also reduced lung damage, inflammation and disease severity in the rodents, according to scientists from Lancaster University in England and Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.
“We found that administering this vaccine through a nasal spray completely protected the animals from shedding the virus which causes transmission of the virus.
“This means the immunisation of the upper respiratory tract through a nasal spray can prevent individuals from spreading the virus and developing infections elsewhere in the body,” said study author Muhammad Munir, a Lancaster University virologist.
“Though the vaccine showed promising safety and efficacy in this animal model, human trials are still required to determine its applicability and to obtain regulatory approvals,” Munir added in a university news release.
The nasal spray vaccine is based on a common poultry virus called the Newcastle Disease Virus, which can replicate in humans but is harmless.
The research team engineered NDV to produce the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to prime the body’s immune system to attack the coronavirus.
According to the researchers, there are a number of advantages to a nasal spray vaccine, including it being noninvasive, triggering local immunity, and being an alternative for people who are afraid of needles or have blood clotting disorders.
They noted that there’s already a nasal spray vaccine for seasonal flu, so this type of vaccination has been proven to be effective.
The researchers pointed out that a nasal spray vaccine for COVID-19 could provide a low-cost alternative for the developing world, because it could be produced using existing worldwide infrastructure for seasonal flu virus vaccines.
Study participant, Mohammed Rohaim, also from Lancaster University, said, “The scalability and economical production make this vaccine candidate suitable for low- and middle-income countries.”
The nasal spray is proven to kill 99.9 per cent of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19., and the UK trials of the nasal spray are being conducted at the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Surrey, Associated Press reports.
Rodent studies performed at Colorado State University also showed an average of over 95% reduction in SARS-CoV-2 viral load tested on the day following infection with half the rodents having no detectable virus at all. This was following inoculation with the virus and two treatments of the nasal spray, AP added.
The nasal spray is called SaNOtize Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS). It reportedly kills the virus in the upper airways, preventing it from reaching the lungs and causing infection.
The treatment, developed by SaNOtize Research and Development Corp. based in Vancouver, Canada, proved 99.9 percent effective in killing the coronavirus in independent lab tests at Utah State University’s Antiviral Research Institute, TimesNowNews claims.
The trials have been approved by Health Canada.
The SaNOtize treatment is based on nitric oxide, a natural nanomolecule produced by the human body with proven anti-microbial properties shown to have a direct effect on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The treatment can be delivered by nasal spray, throat gargle or nasal lavage.
Speaking about the study, Dunmade said, “Economically, it’s an alternative for the developing nations. When desiring to embark on mass vaccination, most developing countries cannot afford the cost of the newly developed vaccine.
“Besides, nasal spray is non-invasive, compared to vaccination. Nasal spray is an alternative for people who are afraid of injection because of needle pain.”
The ENT surgeon further said, “Any reactions after taking injection can be avoided by using nasal spray.
“Apart from needle pain around the injection site, redness, swelling and weakness of limbs may not occur with spray.”
A researcher, Prof. Olugbenga Mokuolu, told our correspondent that COVID-19 remains a challenge to the world and various solutions would still have to continue to be explored.
Mokuolu, who is a Professor of Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, said, “We are grateful for the availability of vaccine which is one major direction in which everybody is looking at.”
“Other options need to be explored. The issue of nasal spray vaccine is being investigated. Everything potentially that can be a solution will have to be explored and their evidence reviewed and positioned,” he added.
Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Public Health Physician, Dr. Oladoyin Odubanjo, says having a nasal spray vaccine will have positive impact in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Odubanjo, who is the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science, stated, “It will be better in the sense that the administration will be easier to deploy.
“If you have it, you can spray many people per hour. If it becomes successful, that is the type of advantage you will get. We need something that will get to the population quickly.”
The public health physician, however, states that every vaccine has to go through different phases of trials before it is released to the public.
“The beginning phases is to start looking at efficacy and safety. Even if you think it is efficient but you don’t think it is very safe, it is not going to be out in the public”, Odubanjo said.
But Prof. Mokuolu said animal trials is one stage to the development of a solution.
“Until it is proven, we don’t know yet what will be the outcome,” Mokuolu said.
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