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

Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

Picture: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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