THE NEW YORK TIMES
HYDERABAD, India — On the outskirts of this centuries-old Indian city, a world away from its congested roads and cacophony, the gleaming modern laboratories of Bharat Biotech are churning out a Covid vaccine that would be sprayed into the nose rather than injected into the arm.
Currently available vaccines produce powerful, long-lasting immunity against severe illness, as several studies have recently shown.
But their protection against infection from the coronavirus is transient, and can falter as new variants of the virus emerge — a failing that has prompted talk of regular booster shots.
Nasal vaccines may be the best way to prevent infections long term, because they provide protection exactly where it is needed to fend off the virus: the mucosal linings of the airways, where the coronavirus first lands.
Bharat Biotech is among the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers. Its best known product, Covaxin, is authorized to prevent Covid in India and many other countries. But its experimental nasal vaccine may prove to be the real game changer.
Immunizing entire populations with a nasal or oral vaccine would be faster in the middle of a surge than injections, which require skill and time to administer.
A nasal vaccine is likely to be more palatable to many (including children) than painful shots, and would circumvent shortages of needles, syringes and other materials.
Intranasal vaccines “can be administered easily in mass immunization campaigns and reduce transmission,” said Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech.
There are at least a dozen other nasal vaccines in development worldwide, some of them now in Phase 3 trials. But Bharat Biotech’s may be the first to become available.
In January, the company won approval to begin a Phase 3 trial of the nasal spray in India as a booster for people who have already received two shots of a Covid vaccine …