COVID nasal vaccine soon as Bharat Biotech completes Phase III trials

The pharma major is slated to submit the findings of the trial to the Drugs Controller General of India next month

Representative photo: iStock

Good news is just around the corner for those who dread the syringe, for Bharat Biotech is close to releasing the country’s first-ever COVID-19 nasal vaccine.

The pharma major’s chairman and managing director Dr Krishna Ella on Saturday told ANI that the clinical phase III trials of the vaccine have been completed and the company will submit the findings to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) next month.

“We just completed a clinical trial, a data analysis is going on. Next month, we will submit the data to the regulatory agency. If everything is okay, then we will get permission to launch and it will be the world’s first nasal COVID-19,” he said at the Viva Technology 2022 event in Paris.

In January, the DCGI had permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct the phase III trials of the vaccine.

Also read: Not just coughing or sneezing, talking too can spread coronavirus, finds study

Stressing the importance of booster doses, Dr Ella encouraged those who have taken the second dose to take their precautionary/booster shots to increase their immunity against COVID-19.

“Booster dose of vaccine gives immunity. I always say the booster dose is a miracle dose for every vaccination. Even in children first, two doses don’t give much immunity, but the third dose gives an amazing response to the child. The same thing for adults also. The third dose is very important for adults. COVID-19 can’t be eradicated 100 per cent. It will be there and we have to live with it and handle it and more intelligently know how to control it (sic),” he said.

Why nasal vaccines?

As the name suggests, nasal vaccines are meant to be administered through the nose either as a spray or through a dropper or syringe.

Nasal vaccines are different from intermuscular shots, which is the current medium of vaccination against COVID-19. When a person receives a shot of the COVID vaccine, it triggers a strong immune response in the cells where the vaccine is injected. The immune system then produces COVID-specific antibodies and other immune cells in other parts of the body. Once coronavirus infects the cells in a person’s respiratory tract, the nearby immune cells start putting up a defence. The body also sends anti-viral immune cells and antibodies from other parts to the infection site. However, by the time the immune cells meant to fight COVID gather round the infection site to stop the virus from replicating, the infection has already begun to spread to other parts of the body and then it gets difficult for the vaccine to catch up with the viral spread.

Also read: Why must you take COVID booster dose? ICMR study has fresh inputs

In contrast, when a nasal vaccine is administered, it mimics the virus to ready the immune system against it. Not just the virus, the vaccine mimics the process of infection too and strengthens the protective response within the mucosal immune system of the nose and throat, thereby stationing the antibodies right where they are needed for a fight in the event of a virus attack.