There are currently three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. The FDA has authorized all three, which include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The CDC even gave a recent recommendation for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was paused due to several cases of blood clots.
While these vaccines have proven to be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19, people are wary of the injections. Pain at the injection site (shoulder) is very common, but it’s also possible to experience fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, aches, and other flu-like symptoms after the shot. Additionally, people who have needle phobias are not chomping at the bit to receive the vaccines. That fear may go away soon because the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines may come in the form of nasal sprays or pills.
What Do We Know About The New COVID-19 Vaccine Pills?
Clinical trials for the new antiviral therapy for COVID-19 began in March 2021. Pfizer-BioNTech created the pills, which enter a class of medicines known as protease inhibitors. According to reports, the new intravenous antiviral candidate works by inhibiting an enzyme that the virus needs to multiply in human cells. This class of medicines exists in treatments for hepatitis C, HIV, and other viral pathogens.
A nasal spray vaccine may be available as early as 2022, but this will depend on clinical efficacy. The main thing that developers and researchers are concerned with is how well the new vaccines perform against variants of SARS-CoV-2. The race to a solution for COVID-19 is fast, as five companies are currently developing oral vaccines. Two of those companies have already entered phase 1 clinical trials. These trials aim to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of one or two-dose regimens.
Many scientists relish in the excitement of these new innovations. Their goal is to use what they know about the current vaccine and the virus’ variants and channel that knowledge into the next generation vaccines. The information on the current vaccines informs scientists how they act against certain parts of the virus, stimulating immune responses in the body.
What Do Health Experts Say?
According to many health experts and infectious disease specialists, an oral vaccine could change the game. If approved, recently infected people could take it outside of hospitals. The hope is that the pill is so effective that it keeps the disease from progressing, causing symptoms that require hospitalization. Health experts also say that people will be more willing to get vaccines if they come in pill form or nasal sprays. They are “less-intimidating,” according to a survey of U.S. adults.
How Will The New Pills Or Nasal Sprays Work?
The three injectable vaccines work to prompt an immune response that combats coronavirus spike proteins. According to ImmunityBio, a company working on a next generation COVID-19 vaccine, their capsule vaccine targets mutation-prone outer spike proteins and more stable inner proteins. This works to activate T cells, antibodies, and memory B cells against the coronavirus.
Altimmune is another company working on a next generation COVID-19 vaccine. This would be a nasal spray, which would spawn an immune response at the point where the virus enters the body. The goal is to cause mucosal immunity in the nasal cavity. The nasal spray would also stimulate T-cell and antibody responses.
Roughly seven out of 10 Americans prefer a pill to a needle injection. This is why so many companies are racing to develop next generation COVID-19 vaccines. They want to help achieve herd immunity and prevent serious future outbreaks that require mass hospitalization. Ultimately, though, research is still preliminary and more clinical studies are necessary.