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COVID-19 Vaccines: Are Nasal Vaccines Effective? Read Here

Published On Jun 09, 2021 11:00 AM By Sakshi Aggarwal

When addressing the Indian masses on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared several plans that the government has laid out to fight COVID-19. In the speech, the PM said that the research for developing nasal vaccines as an alternative to intramuscular vaccines has started and is making progress. The nasal vaccines are expected to boost India’s vaccination drive. This is why it is important to understand how intranasal vaccines work, what are their disadvantages, etc. 

How Do Nasal Vaccines Work?

Unlike injected vaccines, nasal vaccines are not injected into the skin with the help of an injection. Instead, they are sprayed into nostrils. There is no requirement of needles and they can be used with a syringe without a needle, a nasal spray, a liquid medicine, or a special aerosol delivery. The virus usually enters the human body via the nose, which the vaccine intercepts and causes the immune system to make proteins in the blood and nose to fight it. It also prevents the virus from multiplying. 

Difference Between Intranasal Vaccines and Injected Vaccines

Nasal vaccines are seen as an effective solution to fight COVID-19. This is because most viruses, including the one associated with SARs-COV-2, enter the body through the mucosa and infect the cells and molecules in the mucosal membranes. On the other hand, intramuscular vaccines or injected vaccines fail to trigger an immune response from mucosa and depend on immune cells from other body parts. It is not exactly effective in managing viruses entering the body but it produces circulating Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies that fight back pathogens before they can cause any severe tissue damage.

Also, it is easy to administer nasal vaccines as well as they provide easy immunity. Apart from protecting against COVID-19, an effective nasal jab directly targets the immune cells present in the mucosal membrane by interacting with the T-cells that are present in the nose and throat. 

Are There Any Disadvantages of Nasal Vaccines?

Intranasal vaccines limit the viral infection in the mucosal membrane, which is the entry point for the virus. But it produces antibodies that might not be as strong in the lower respiratory tract as compared to the upper respiratory tract. 

Also, experts say that intranasal vaccines may not be able to provide long-lasting immunity to people against COVID-19. 

Another disadvantage is that it uses a live attenuated virus and there is little, but the chance of reversion of neuro-attenuation. This means that the virus can retain its ability to cause disease in the human body. But the researchers are still in the progress of developing COVID-19 nasal vaccines and are trying to find a solution for the same.  

In India, the trials to produce these nasal vaccines are in progress. An intranasal vaccine BBV154 produced by Bharat Biotech is in the pre-clinical trial phase. If it proves to be successful, then it will contribute significantly to India’s vaccination drive, making it more flexible. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), the nasal vaccine could be a gamechanger for children. 

You May Also Like to Read: 

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Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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