Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has started working on protocols to start trials for nasal COVID-19 vaccine as only four million people having been fully or partially inoculated across Pakistan.
It will be a single dose vaccine, which does not require a syringe. It is hoped the clinical trial will commence in six to eight weeks after approval from three committees is obtained.
UHS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said the university has started developing protocols for the clinical trial of the nasal vaccine. "The vaccine will be single dose and has been manufactured by the CanSino Biologics whose single dose injectable vaccine is already being used in Pakistan. Nasal vaccines are usually given to children but there will be no age limit for it and it can be administered to both children and adults,” he said.
The vaccine will be capable of generating an immune response at the site of the infection and within the respiratory passage. Though children are less affected by coronavirus, they are a major source of spreading the virus, therefore the vaccine will be helpful in creating herd immunity.
Dr Akram said during clinical trials, the vaccine — already being used in China — would be administered to around 5,000 volunteers and its efficacy and safety would be compared with the injectable vaccines. He said the nasal vaccine could also be cost effective or available at lesser rates.
"Once protocols are finalised, the university’s review board will analyse it and then refer it to the National Bioethics Committee. Final approval of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) would be required. I hope the entire process will be completed within six to eight weeks,” he said.
Dr Akram said volunteers would be tested through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and next generation sequencing to analyse the efficacy of the vaccine. He hoped the nasal vaccine would be effective against all variants.
"We expect the first 10,000 doses to come on March 25, and 100,000 next month and 200,000 the month after," said Hassan Abbas, an official of AJ Pharma, CanSino's local partner, which will be importing the vaccine.
In the meantime, after reducing the number of inbound flights to 20 per cent as part of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 from May 5 to 20, Pakistan has also slashed the number of foreign airlines’ flights to 120 per week.
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