As of today, the world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for over 1.5 years. Throughout the world, the novel coronavirus is responsible for 197 million cases and approximately 4.7 million deaths. Although the Delta variant is currently sweeping the globe, the increased push for COVID-19 vaccines has been beneficial in conferring some level of protection.
According to Medical XPress, researchers from the University of Alabama questioned whether a new type of vaccine administration could also benefit the world in the fight against COVID-19. In many cases, vaccines are administered intramuscularly; I know that was the case when I received my two Pfizer jabs. However, this research team found that intranasal vaccines could not only confer protection, but reduce viral shedding. Take a look at the study findings published in Science Translational Medicine.
An Intranasal COVID-19 Vaccine
Upon infection, COVID-19 often first infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Once infected, patients with COVID-19 can experience pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and other pulmonary issues. Thus, researchers questioned whether administering the vaccine intranasally could help protect infection at the source.
To begin, the researchers used animal models (hamsters and monkeys) of COVID-19. They first administered the AstraZeneca vaccine intranasally. Next, researchers evaluated the viral load deposited on nasal swabs. After the intranasal vaccination, the animal models showed lower viral loads. Ultimately, this is representative of less viral shedding. If infected individuals shed less of the virus, it could also cut down on transmission and infection (alongside mask wearing)!
Unfortunately, an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine may not always be the most effective option. For example, past studies highlight how intranasal vaccine protection does not last as long as protection from intramuscular vaccines. However, this is a good start in the path to creating new and innovative solutions to fight this coronavirus.
Wondering more about the COVID-19 vaccine and its impact on patients with rare diseases? Learn more about why you should be getting a vaccine here.