Washington University researchers develop new COVID vaccine, approved for use in India

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 8:04 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The first nasal spray COVID vaccine in the world, was approved for use in India this week. It was developed at Washington University by David Curiel, MD, Ph.D., who is director of the Biological Therapeutics Center and Michael Diamond, MD, Ph.D., who is a professor of molecular biology, pathology and immunology.

A virus that causes the common cold called, adenovirus, was tweaked so that it won’t make people sick and then a spike protein from the coronavirus was added, to make the vaccine. Because the vaccine is administered through the nose, it boosts the immune system in the respiratory system, the first place the virus attacks after it’s inhaled.

“And because it’s augmenting immunity in the respiratory tract, it may do a better job of preventing initial infection and lateral transmission that is person-to-person transmission,” said Curiel.

The current vaccine requires someone with special training to give the shot, but the nasal spray vaccine won’t. The new vaccine only requires refrigeration and doesn’t need specialized freezers as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do.

So far the Washington University vaccine has been more effective at blocking the virus from infecting people and no side effects have been reported.

Diamond and Curiel collaborated with Bharat Biotech International in India and the vaccine is currently only approved for us in India.

“Washington University is currently exploring licensing opportunities with American partners. So we fully anticipate it will be developed here as well,” said Curiel.

A vaccine that’s administered through the nose was designed and developed to be cost-effective, which is especially important to low and middle-income countries.