In what is believed to be a world-first, China’s commerical capital of Shanghai recently introduced a new type of COVID-19 vaccine that is inhaled rather than administered via injection.
Chinese regulators approved the vaccine, produced by Chinese pharma firm CanSino Biologics, for use as a booster in September.
And now, the first people are starting to receive the vaccine, which is inhaled via the mouth from a vessel that looks like a take-out coffee cup with a short mouthpiece.
“Our body’s first line of defence is the mucus membrane of our respiratory system, we want that to be directly stimulated to improve immunity and using the inhaled vaccine does that,” Dr Zhao Hui, Chief Medical Officer, Shanghai United Family Hospital, Pudong, told Reuters.
His hospital is among those administering the new vaccine, which will be used as well as regular injected shots.
Commenting on what he said was the first use of the technology, Erwin Loh, Chief Medical Officer, St Vincent’s Health, Australia, said the advent of inhaled vaccines was important not only because of their potential to guard against infection, but also because they could lessen vaccine hesitancy.
“There is a large proportion of people who are resistant to take the vaccine because they have a needle phobia. They may not articulate it, but that’s what in their mind,” he said.
Increasing the uptake in vaccinations is vital for China, which remains a global outlier as it sticks to its “zero-COVID” policy, aiming to eliminate community outbreaks of the virus.
Loh is hopeful that results from Shanghai’s foray into inhaled vaccines will encourage other countries to follow suit.
“I think inhaled vaccines for respiratory illness like COVID-19 will be the future,” he said.
Edits by EP News Bureau