Researchers looking for novel methods to protect humans against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have reported promising results as soon as this year. Toward the end of this month, the Food and Drug Administration will hold a meeting with its outside vaccine advisers to discuss the future of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes deciding whether or not to approve new boosters and potentially switching the strain that the vaccines are designed to protect against.
Here’s a sneak glimpse at what we may hope to see with the next generation of COVID-19 vaccinations in 2023.
Modern Nasal and Oral Vaccines
Many businesses are investigating strategies that may provide more robust protection against infections rather than only reducing the impact of the illness. Drops, sprays, or tablets might be used to develop mucosal immunity and provide antibodies to defend against the virus at the locations where it first enters the body.
Dr. John Beigel said that although some of these vaccinations have been registered in other countries, none have been licensed in the United States, and that the evidence supporting them is weak. When asked about the Biden administration’s proposal for funding to advance prospective next-generation mucosal vaccines to large-scale clinical trials, Beigel indicated it would be difficult to identify the winners for government sponsorship.
Immune responses to mucosal vaccinations may be measured in the same manner they are following conventional immunizations. However, it is unclear how such statistics will convert into effective protection against the illness.
Mucosal vaccines for Coviridae have been studied by many businesses, but the data is limited and dispersed since researchers have used varying methodologies and quality standards, as noted by Beigel. As a consequence, it is difficult for researchers to evaluate preliminary findings from different laboratories that have tested novel vaccinations on animals.
Codagenix’s intranasal vaccination has become one of the few mucosal vaccines to complete clinical testing. The findings of a massive trial of the vaccine, which is given as nasal drops, are scheduled to be announced in the following months. In the last year, the vaccination has also been tested as a booster in the UK.
CEO J. Robert Coleman expressed confidence in the vaccine’s potential to join the U.S. market. He also said that the company’s vaccine stands out from the competition due to the possibility of direct effectiveness data.
Sean Tucker, CEO of Vaxart, has hinted that another mucosal vaccination might soon enter so-called challenge trials. In June, his business signed a contract with the British company hVIVO to create the first human Omicron challenge model, in which vaccinated volunteers are purposefully exposed to the virus. Validating the findings from their method is an ongoing project for hVIVO.
Chinese authorities have given the green light for CanSino Biologics to begin selling nasal spray versions of its previously administered vaccine. A Bharat Biotech product has also been given the go-ahead in India. The American vaccine’s sponsor, Ocugen, is planning clinical studies that might lead to a release in the United States. Despite the availability of these choices, scientists and U.S. authorities have expressed doubt because of last year’s dismal findings from an endeavor by Oxford and Astra Zeneca.
Updating the existing vaccines
Several pharmaceutical companies, including Novavax, Moderna or Pfizer have announced plans to conduct clinical studies of modified versions of their COVID-19 vaccines that include components to induce immunity against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with a single injection.
The currently available bivalent COVID boosters, which have been upgraded to provide protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 strains, are essentially a combination vaccination.