COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered as a nasal spray
Exclusive: The second generation of a COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered as a nasal spray rather than an injection, according to one of Australia's leading scientists.
The CSIRO's Professor Trevor Drew said early testing showed an intranasal approach better targeted the lungs, making it a viable alternative.
It is one of a number of delivery methods on the table, as the Australian Government looks to produce coronavirus vaccine injections from as early as January.
And scientists are also looking at ways to allow the injectable vaccines to be stored at room temperatures to make them easier to transport and cheaper to distribute.
Professor Drew, the director of CSIRO's Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong, Victoria, said a nasal spray may be a useful addition to the vaccine fight against COVID-19.
"The hypothesis is the future use of the vaccine is an intranasal vaccine, it may be better at getting to the lungs surface than an injection," he said.
"It would be in an atomised spray, there are flu vaccines that use this and AstraZeneca as a company have used intranasal sprays.
"I imagine they will do injections first of all and then explore options."
The Oxford vaccine, a frontrunner in the vaccine race, is produced by British and Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca markets Fluenz Tetra, a flu vaccine nasal spray, in the UK for people aged 24 months to 18 years old.
A second generation nasal spray COVID-19 vaccine may help to immunise children, if required.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week that the Oxford University vaccine may be delivered by January, or later this year in a best-case scenario.
It is currently in stage three trials involving up to 30,000 people.
Stage two results showed participants who received a booster shot had stronger antibodies, suggesting that it may require two doses per person, according to Prof Andrew Pollard, a key figure in the Oxford vaccine.
The UK has already reserved vaccine manufacturing space, and is in advanced stages of recruiting 500,000 volunteers by the end of October for a wider scale trial.
Vaccines may also have to be refrigerated, but there are ways to allow them to be stored at room temperature, Prof Drew said.
He cited a 2016 study published in Nature Communications journal based on research conducted by Maria Pelliccia.
"There are also people working on ways to preserve the vaccine at different temperatures," he said.
"You can extend the life of adenovirus at up to 37 degrees (celsius) for several days with the addition of sugar or anionic gold particles. It could extend the life (of the vaccine) from hours to months."
Russia has begun wide spread testing of its Sputnik V vaccine, which was rushed into regulation by Vladimir Putin, who is under pressure over claims that a key opposition figure was poisoned with Novichok.
Germany's BioNTech, which has teamed up with Pfizer, has said it was on track to seek approval for its vaccine as early as October.
Moderna, which has a DNA based candidate, was also in stage three trials.
An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said it was too early to consider future mechanisms, with the company focused on delivering as many of the current planned vaccines as possible.
Originally published as COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered as a nasal spray