China's National Medical Products Administration has officially approved the world's first COVID-19 inhalable vaccine, which will be used as a booster for the virus. The vaccine, made by CanSino, has very similar components to the currently existing injected vaccine and operates in a similar manner. The Convidecia Air uses an adenovirus as a carrier, which then teaches the body to fight off the virus, similar to an injectable vaccine (but without the needles). Here's what to know.
The needle-free vaccine is the first of over 100 nasal and oral vaccines in development worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, to be approved. The Convidecia Air vaccine is self-administered through the mouth as a digestible mist that "can effectively induce comprehensive immune protection in response to SARS-CoV-2 after just one breath," according to CanSinoBIO. Scientists behind the oral vaccine hope it could prepare the immune cells' thin mucous layer, which would then halt the spread of the illness and ultimately kill the virus once it hits the body.
The vaccine maker has already developed an injected form of the same vaccine in a few other countries, as well as China, and through clinical trials, has found that it was quite effective. During the Phase III clinical trials, scientists found the injected vaccine was 57.5% effective at preventing symptoms and 91.7% effective at preventing the disease after four weeks of one dose. To follow up, scientists found that through two inhalable vaccines, 28 days apart was equivalent to one shot. The inhalable format for vaccines targets the lungs and upper airways, where COVID-19 and influenza enter the body first, so scientists believe the inhaled vaccines could be more effective at fighting infections.
Despite China's high vaccination rights, more than 65 million people in the country are currently under lockdown due to the sudden appearance of local COVID cases. Chinese regulators hope the new vaccination method will push the population to vaccinate. Still, considering the high vaccination rate, it is unclear how effective it will be as of now. Since the original vaccine was first administered, the country has distributed more than 3.4 billion vaccine doses, resulting in 89.9% of the population as fully vaccinated. It is unclear if the restrictions will be dropped anytime soon, but hopefully, the infection numbers will slow down. Stay tuned.