China just approved the world's first inhaled Covid-19 vaccine mist

The Chinese government, World Health Organization, and several other countries have given the green light for its use as a booster and primary vaccine.
Deena Theresa
The new vaccine provides a non-invasive option that uses a nebulizer to change liquid into an aerosol for inhalation through the mouth.
The new vaccine provides a non-invasive option that uses a nebulizer to change liquid into an aerosol for inhalation through the mouth.

Drazen Zigic/iStock 

China has become the first country to approve the world's first inhaled vaccine, the vaccine maker Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics Inc, announced on Sunday. The needle-free vaccines that could be highly appealing to vaccine-hesitant people can also be self-administered. This can potentially ease pressure on healthcare resources, reported Fortune.

China’s National Medical Products Administration approved CanSino’s Ad5-nCoV for emergency use as a booster vaccine, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Called Convidecia Air, the liquid form of the vaccine is changed into an aerosol using a nebulizer. It can then be inhaled through the mouth using the nebulizer machine. The vaccine "can effectively induce comprehensive immune protection in response to SARS-CoV-2 after just one breath," CanSino said in a statement.

CanSino received the approval of its clinical trial application for the vaccine in March 2021. According to studies published in The Lancet, Convidecua Air can "induce strong humoral, cellular and mucosal immunity to achieve triple protection and effectively contain the infection and spread of the virus."

The announcement pushed the company’s shares up as much as 14.5 percent Monday morning in Hong Kong, reported Business Standard.

Green light for its use

Chinese scientists published a pre-print study in July which revealed that people who received one booster dose of CanSino's inhaled vaccine after two doses of the inactivated jab from Chinese maker Sinovac developed more antibodies than people who received three Sinovac shots. A month after receiving the inhaled booster, 92.5 percent of people had developed neutralizing antibodies for Omicron.

Meanwhile, those who had three doses of Sinovac’s jab did not demonstrate any neutralizing antibodies for Omicron, either four weeks or six months after getting a booster.

CanSino's booster vaccine is reported to be an inhaled version of the one-shot adenovirus Covid-19 jab that the company developed in partnership with the Chinese military-run Academy of Military Medical Sciences. According to Fortune, the first jab proved to be 66 percent effective in preventing infection and 92 percent effective against severe disease in early clinical trials. It was the first in the world to undergo human testing in March 2020 and has been used in China, Mexico, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Hungary after being rolled out in February 2021.

The Chinese government, World Health Organization, and several other countries have given the green light for its use as a booster and primary vaccine.

Inhaled vaccines could better target Omicron infections than injected jabs

The vaccine is similar to those developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson: They use a modified cold-causing virus to expose the immune system to the coronavirus.

But the jab was not widely distributed as expected. It trails vaccines from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and state-owned Sinopharm Group Co. in use outside China. It is also unsure how useful the new jabs will prove in China's fight against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, prominent scientists have called for the development of inhaled and nasal spray vaccines as they could better target Omicron infections than injected jabs.

"Once [Omicron] gets in through our nasal mucosa, or our oral mucosa, upper airway. That’s game over [for] infection," Scripps Research executive vice president Eric Topol said recently in a podcast with U.S. President Joe Biden’s former COVID-19 Response Coordinator Andy Slavitt. "The best way… to induce the mucosal immunity right at the upper airway is with either nasal or oral vaccines."

Earlier this year in India, the phase 3 clinical trial of the world's first DNA-based vaccine, ZyCoV-D, showed that the needle-free, three-dose vaccine has an efficacy of 66.6 percent. However, though Indian regulatory authorities have approved ZyCoV-D for children over 12, the vaccine is yet to be rolled out in the country.

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