World Health Organization looking forward to oral and nasal COVID-19 vaccines

The world body’s top scientist believes such options would make uptake easier as pandemic battle continues.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan highlighted she was looking forward to "second generation" of COVID-19 vaccines, which would hopefully include nasal sprays and orally administered options. Swaminathan said such vaccines could have advantages compared to those currently available as they would be easier to administer than injections. Such therapies could even be self-administered. She highlighted that there were 129 different candidate vaccines that have made it to clinical trials stage so far, while a further 194 are still at preclinical stages. During a live interaction on WHO’s social media channels, she highlighted that the products covered the entire range of technologies, and she was hopeful some of them would prove to be very safe and efficacious, while others may not.

By having more options available, this would allow variety, with recipients empowered to choose options that suit them. To date, the WHO has only granted emergency use authorisation to seven COVID-19 vaccines. These include vaccines created by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac and recently, the one developed by Bharat Biotech. "None of the vaccines are 100%. Nobody has ever claimed that the vaccines are going to be 100% protective. But 90% is a wonderful amount of protection to have, compared to zero," added Swaminathan. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins’s Coronavirus Resource Center, about 7,350 billion vaccines doses have been administered to date. Just over five million COVID-19 related deaths have been reported from the over 250 million cases confirmed to date.