How Covid Nasal Sprays Work And Their Their Advantages Over Traditional Vaccines

covid nasal sprays 5 25
 Josep Suria/Shutterstock

As new waves of omicron infections continue to hit around the world, it’s becoming clearer that COVID is here to stay. As such, in the years to come, vaccination – both first courses and booster doses – will likely remain necessary to brace global communities against the worst health outcomes wrought by the virus.

But what if the current crop of vaccines could be improved? Recent advances in vaccine technology and delivery systems suggest there could be gains to be made.

In particular, scientists are working on vaccines that activate your “mucosal” immune system, which may be better able to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And rather than being delivered into your arm (intramuscular vaccines), these vaccines could be delivered as a spray up your nose (intranasal vaccines).

Let’s start with some background. SARS-CoV-2 can infect the cells that line the surface of your respiratory tract (commonly referred to as your mucous membranes) all the way from your nose to your lungs. Right across this surface, the virus can damage your cells and provoke inflammation that leads to further dysfunction both locally and throughout the body.

Vaccines are used to both reduce how much the virus can replicate, and to control the ensuing inflammation, which is probably the major cause of severe disease and death from COVID. Our current vaccines work by presenting a small bit of the virus (the spike protein) as what’s known as an “antigen” to your immune system in your muscle.

The idea is this occurs before a SARS-CoV-2 infection, and allows your body to produce antiviral antibodies, which can block the virus from getting inside your cells, as well as T cells, which can help cure those cells that do get infected.

Even though it’s initially provided to the muscle in your arm, the vaccine antigen makes its way to your nearby lymph nodes. These are organs which stimulate an immune response in the blood and other fluids that run throughout the body. But what’s often less pronounced following traditional vaccination is the response in mucosal tissues like the gut, lungs or your nose.

This is because the mucosal immune system is somewhat independent to the systemic one. Given how often these surfaces are exposed to infection or stimuli like dust and pollution, mucosal tissues have their own immune system, composed of specialised antibodies and T cells.

Although standard vaccines do elicit some mucosal protection, the levels aren’t particularly high. But directly presenting the mucosal immune system with vaccine antigen using a delivery method like a nasal spray triggers a significantly more potent mucosal response.

Scientists have often thought that eliciting an immune response in the nose, throat and airways, where typically viruses like SARS-CoV-2 initially enter the body and grow, can result in improved protection compared to intramuscular vaccines – essentially stopping it at the source.

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Clinical trials are underway

Mucosal vaccines are already in wide use in children for other respiratory pathogens like influenza.

Although the first COVID vaccines to pass clinical trials didn’t specifically target the mucosal immune system, a plethora of new vaccine candidates are being explored in pre-clinical and clinical trials. These include intranasal regimes that could work together with the standard COVID vaccines, but also which could work independently.

In animal trials these mucosal vaccines have shown protective effects. In mice, scientists have observed that intranasal vaccines induce higher levels of protection against infection compared with intramuscular vaccines.

However, we don’t know yet whether this would be the same in people. Although some preliminary results do seem encouraging, and a few candidates have progressed to phase 3 trials for efficacy.

If proven to work well in humans, intranasal COVID vaccines could have a variety of benefits. They can be easier to administer, especially to people with a phobia of needles. They could also provide additional protection against initial infection, and therefore transmission, rather than mainly protecting against severe disease, as has been the case with the current crop of COVID vaccines.

This type of vaccine could be especially useful for people who are most vulnerable to getting very sick with COVID, as well as those who tend to spread infection but have a relatively low risk of death, like children and young people.

But before we get to this point, we’ll need significantly more research to support both safety and efficacy. New clinical trials investigating how well these vaccines prevent infection should be relatively straightforward to run given the significant levels of COVID circulating currently.The Conversation

About The Author

Connor Bamford, Research Fellow, Virology, Queen's University Belfast

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books: Health

Fresh Fruit CleanseFresh Fruit Cleanse: Detox, Lose Weight and Restore Your Health with Nature's Most Delicious Foods [Paperback] by Leanne Hall.
Lose weight and feel vibrantly healthy while clearing your body of toxins. Fresh Fruit Cleanse offers everything you need for an easy and powerful detox, including day-by-day programs, mouth-watering recipes, and advice for transitioning off the cleanse.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thrive FoodsThrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health [Paperback] by Brendan Brazier.
Building upon the stress-reducing, health-boosting nutritional philosophy introduced in his acclaimed vegan nutrition guide Thrive, professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier now turns his attention to your dinner plate (breakfast bowl and lunch tray too).
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Death by Medicine by Gary NullDeath by Medicine by Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Carolyn Dean
The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. It's death by medicine.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration




spreading disease at home 11 26
Why Our Homes Can Become COVID Hotspots
by Becky Tunstall
While staying home protected many of us from catching COVID at work, at school, at the shops or…
witchcraft and america 11 15
What Greek Myth Tells Us About Modern Witchcraft
by Joel Christensen
Living on the North Shore in Boston in the fall brings the gorgeous turning of the leaves and…
making businesses accountable 11 14
How Businesses Can Walk the Talk on Social and Economic Challenges
by Simon Pek and Sébastien Mena
Businesses are facing increasing pressures to tackle social and environmental challenges like…
young woman or girl standing against a graffiti wall
Coincidence As Exercise for the Mind
by Bernard Beitman, M.D.
Paying close attention to coincidences exercises the mind. Exercise benefits the mind just as it…
sudden infanant death syndrum 11 17
How To Protect Your Baby From Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
by Rachel Moon
Each year, about 3,400 U.S. infants die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping, according to the…
woman holding her head, mouth open in fear
Fear of Outcomes: Mistakes, Failure, Success, Ridicule, and more
by Evelyn C. Rysdyk
People who follow the structure of what has been done before rarely have fresh ideas, as they have…
moving back home is not failing 11 15
Why Moving Back Home Doesn’t Mean You’ve Failed
by Rosie Alexander
The idea that young people’s futures are best served by moving away from small towns and rural…
a grandmother (or perhaps a great-grandmother) holding a newborn child
Clearing Ancestral Trauma and Choosing Ancestral Gifts
by Catherine Shainberg
Whether we are dealing with our own events, or with family history, the process of correction is…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities | | | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.