The drive to develop a nasal spray against COVID-19 infection suffered a setback Tuesday after AstraZeneca and Oxford University said a trial produced disappointing results.
Only a “minority of participants” produced an antibody response in their nasal passages and protection was generally weaker than standard COVID-19 shots developed by Oxford researchers and the drugmaker, the trial found.
The U.K. trial involved 30 unvaccinated persons and 12 volunteers who received a regular two-dose vaccine.
“The nasal spray did not perform as well in this study as we had hoped,” said Sandy Douglas, chief investigator of the trial at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute. “We believe that delivery of vaccines to the nose and lungs remains a promising approach, but this study suggests there are likely to be challenges in making nasal sprays a reliable option.”
Global health authorities say a nasal spray would be an optimal approach because it is far easier to administer than a shot and might thwart the virus where it enters the body and combat transmission. The available intramuscular vaccines for COVID-19 generally thwart severe disease but haven’t stopped infection and transmission outright.
Regulators in India recently approved a spray from Bharat Biotech, and China’s CanSino Biologics Inc. authorized a vaccine given with a nebulizer.
CanSino claims its spray is effective against transmission while Bharat hasn’t published its trial data, according to Reuters.
The setback at Oxford suggests Western nations will have to wait a bit longer for new options, as researchers search for new approaches.
“Although the vaccine and delivery device combination in this study did not warrant further exploration, optimization of this vaccine and other candidates for mucosal delivery remains a key opportunity for transmission-blocking vaccines,” results published in The Lancet medical journal said.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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