Dozens of COVID-19 vaccines are under development worldwide, and the ones closest to ready for public use are traditional, injectable vaccines. But scientists in the U.S., the U.K., and Hong Kong are working on an alternative: inhaled vaccines, the South China Morning Post reports.
Most of the injected vaccines in testing would require multiple shots to be effective, and it's not entirely clear if COVID-19 antibodies will prevent an infection. Meanwhile, scientists have hypothesized, inhaled immunizations could be more effective than injections because they could stop the coronavirus at the place it's often contracted: the nose. Stopping the virus from growing in the nose could then prevent its transmission to others, Bloomberg notes. In addition, the respiratory system is full of mucus tissues full of immune proteins that an inhaled vaccine could bolster — not to mention that many people simply don't like shots.
"The first generation of vaccines are probably going to protect a lot of people," Michael Diamond, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, told Bloomberg. "But I think it's the second- and third-generation vaccines — and maybe intranasal vaccines will be a key component of this — that ultimately are going to be necessary." His team studied mice and found an inhaled vaccine "created a strong immune response throughout the body," especially in the respiratory system, Bloomberg notes.