May 5, 2021 -- New ways to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 are being explored as health experts learn more about how long the vaccines last.
One possibility is that people could get a coronavirus booster when they get an annual flu shot, especially as the possibility of booster vaccines increases.
The Biden administration has not said whether booster vaccines to protect against COVID-19 will be necessary, but Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have all said they’re developing boosters or plan to.
For instance, Moderna says it’s working on a shot that would combine protection against COVID, influenza, and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) this year. Phase 1 clinical trials are expected to start in 2021, the company said in a news release.
Don’t like needles? Researchers are looking at ways to deliver the COVID vaccine through a patch, a pill, or into the nose.
The National Institutes of Health report that researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have had promising results with an inhaled vaccine. The vaccine was given to rhesus monkeys and provided protection against COVID in their lungs and nasal areas, the NIH said in a news release.
Washington University School of Medicine has tested the nasal vaccine on mice with promising results, the school said in a news release.
“The researchers found that the nasal delivery route created a strong immune response throughout the body, but it was particularly effective in the nose and respiratory tract, preventing the infection from taking hold in the body,” a news release said.
The biotech company Vaxess Technologies says it’s developing a patch that could deliver a combo COVID-influenza vaccine.
The vaccine would be delivered “through a number of tiny, painless projections that dissolve at a precisely engineered rate, releasing their treatment at its most effective dose for the most beneficial length of time,” the company said in a news release.
Vaxess is working in partnership with the Taiwanese pharmaceutical company Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. Patches could have a long shelf life and be easy to ship to improve global access, said Vaxess CEO Michael Schrader.
And a coronavirus vaccine that could be taken as a pill may enter clinical trials in the second quarter of 2021.
The oral vaccine is being developed by Oravax Medical, a new joint venture of the Israeli-American company Oramed and the Indian company Premas Biotech.
One advantage of oral vaccines is that people could take it at home instead of having to travel to an office or central vaccination location.