China approved a COVID-19 vaccine mist that can be inhaled: the first needle-free booster option
- A COVID-19 vaccine mist has been approved for use as a booster dose in China.
- The vaccine maker CanSino repackaged its shot as a mist meant to be inhaled.
Just one breath of a vaccine mist can provide strong immune protection against COVID-19, vaccine maker CanSino said in a news release Sunday.
Regulators in China approved a COVID-19 vaccine mist for use as a booster dose, making it the first alternative to injectable vaccines used during the pandemic.
The inhaled vaccine contains the same ingredients as the jabs used in China, but a nebulizer machine turns it from liquid into an aerosol spray.
Similar to the COVID-19 vaccines used in the US, CanSino's formulation contains pieces of genetic material so the body can recognize the virus. While the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines introduce that material directly, the CanSino vaccine uses a harmless version of the common cold virus to carry information about the coronavirus.
The single-dose CanSino shot is about 92% effective at preventing severe disease due to COVID-19, and about 58% effective at preventing illness entirely, according to data reported by the World Health Organization.
Clinical trials of the mist as a booster (following a single injected dose of the vaccine) showed it was about as effective as the two-dose vaccine that's widely used in Asia and abroad.
The nasal mist may bolster protection in the lining of the nose and upper airways, where the virus typically enters the body, according to the press release.
Other vaccines have been repackaged as mists before, such as the FluMist intranasal vaccine seen in pediatricians' offices every flu season. Inhaled vaccines provide a needle-free alternative for kids and adults alike, but evidence from past flu seasons has shown that the mist doesn't always achieve the same level of efficacy as a shot.
Only time will tell if the mistable COVID vaccine provides enough booster protection to be approved and widely distributed in other countries.
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