Visual Representation for COVID-19 virus
Visual Representation for COVID-19 virus

China’s latest COVID-19 booster breakthrough

On Wednesday, China announced about rolling out of a new type of COVID-19 booster vaccine for its citizens that could be administered via mouth through inhaling, rather than taken through injection.

It would be the world’s first inhaling vaccine for COVID-19, introduced in China’s commercial capital of Shanghai.

As per the video appeared on social media in China, showing people taking vaccines from a vessel that looks like a take-out coffee cup with a short mouthpiece.

Dr. Zhao Hui, chief medical officer at Shanghai United Family Hospital Pudong said, “Our body’s first line of defense is the mucus membrane of our respiratory system, we want that to be directly stimulated to improve immunity and using the inhaled vaccine does that,” as reported by Reuters.

Advantages of inhaled vaccine

The benefits of an inhaled vaccine may include a person who is needle phobic may be appealed by it and the concept of priming the area of the body where the virus often enters.

Sinovac COVID-19 Vaccine | Credits: Reuters

An immunologist in India, Dr. Vineeta Bal also said that the large droplets would serve to prime the mouth and throat. Whereas the small droplets would penetrate farther into the body, AP News reported.

About the vaccine

A Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Cansino Biologics, developed the vaccine. It is an aerosol version of the company’s adenovirus vaccine, which is a one-shot kind.

According to AP News, in September, it got approval from the Chinese regulator after doing trials in China, Hungary, Pakistan, Malaysia, Argentina, and Mexico.

As per an announcement posted on an official city social media account, the new vaccine is administered as a booster dose to the people who had already taken initial vaccines.

Erwin Loh, chief medical officer at St Vincent’s Health Australia commented that it is the first use of the technology and the advent of such inhaled vaccines is important not only because of their potential to guard against infection but also because it could help lessen vaccine hesitancy.

He said further, “There is a large proportion of people who are resistant to take the vaccine because they have a needle phobia. They may not articulate it, but that’s what’s in their mind,” as reported by Reuters.

The nasal vaccine that was developed earlier in the United States, was approved by the regulators in India, which however has not been distributed yet. The license for the vaccine is given to Bharat Biotech, the Indian vaccine maker, as reported by AP News.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), on a global scale, other nasal vaccines are being tested.

Loh is hopeful that the new inhaled vaccine’s results in Shanghai will encourage countries to follow the step.

He said, “I think inhaled vaccines for respiratory illness like COVID-19 will be the future,” as reported by Reuters.

Need for the Vaccine Amid “Zero-COVID” policy in China

In China, increasing the uptake of vaccination is important as China sticks to its “zero-COVID” policy, which is aimed at eliminating community outbreaks of the virus.

Vaccines for COVID-19 | Credits: Reuters

According to Reuters reports, no new domestically transmitted symptomatic cases of COVID cases have been reported for October 27. However, 11 local asymptomatic cases are still subject to targeted lockdowns, which is impacting residential buildings and businesses in the city.

The Shanghai government’s WeChat account, while announcing an inhalable vaccine this week stated 23 million of the city’s 26 million residents had been fully vaccinated against COVID, and more than 12 million had received booster shots.

And more than 90% of China’s population has been vaccinated as per the official Chinese government data. The country has depended upon domestically produced, inactivated shots. It has yet to introduce or import its own version of the mRNA vaccine.