The Next Generation of COVID-19 Vaccines
Drug Companies Develop Vaccines in the Form of Nasal Sprays and Pills
A handful of drug companies including Sanofi (SNY), Altimmune (ALT), Vaxart (VXRT) and Gritstone Oncology (GRTS) are developing a new crop of COVID-19 vaccines which may be available in the form of pills or nasal sprays.
The next generation of vaccines could produce longer-lasting results and may work better against new variants of the disease. US government-backed labs are also working on COVID-19 vaccines which are easier to transport and store.
Distribution of the new vaccines could be logistically simpler because they won’t have to be transported and stored at low temperatures. This would have a number of benefits, including that it would mean people in rural areas could receive vaccines more easily.
New Vaccines Could Be Available This Year
As it stands, about 277 COVID-19 vaccines are in development with 93 in human testing. Of those, two are in the form of an oral pill and seven are nasal sprays. Many of the drug companies are in the early or middle phases of human testing.
Altimmune is working on a vaccine which is administered as a nasal spray. The drug company expects results of an early-stage study by midyear. Meanwhile, Vaxart is developing a digestible tablet. An early-stage study of the pill showed that it triggered immune responses to COVID-19.
If the vaccinations prove effective, they could become available later this year or next year. They could serve as a booster for inoculated people in the US and as the primary vaccination for countries which may still be in the process of immunizing their populations later this year and next year.
Booster Shots Will Likely Be Needed
The development of new COVID-19 vaccines comes as infectious diseases specialists predict boosters will be required to extend the effectiveness of vaccines and to fight other variants. Researchers are also examining whether giving doses of two different vaccines will boost defenses.
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research recently started clinical trials of a vaccine which protects against COVID-19 variants. Researchers want to develop a single shot to immunize people against variants. As the world begins to emerge from lockdowns, scientists are still hard at work determining how to keep people safe from COVID-19 going forward.
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