A man inhales the aerosolised Covid vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Cansino Biologics Inc (Credits: AP)
The Chinese city of Shanghai has started administering an inhalable Covid-19 vaccine in what appears to be a world first.
The vaccine, a mist that is sucked in through the mouth, is being offered free of charge as a booster dose for previously vaccinated individuals, according to an announcement posted on an official city social media account.
Needle-free vaccines may persuade people who do not like getting a shot to get vaccinated, as well as help expand inoculation in poor countries because they are easier to administer.
China does not have vaccine mandates but wants more people to get booster shots before it relaxes strict pandemic restrictions that are holding back the economy and increasingly out of synch with the rest of the world.
A video posted by an online Chinese state media outlet showed people at a community health centre putting the short nozzle of a translucent white cup in their mouths.
A medical worker hands over one of the aerosolised Covid vaccines (Credits: AP)
Accompanying text said that, after slowly inhaling, one individual held his breath for five seconds, with the entire procedure completed in 20 seconds.
‘It was like drinking a cup of milk tea,’ one Shanghai resident said in the video. ‘When I breathed it in, it tasted a bit sweet.’
An employee works on the production of the recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine for the Chinese vaccine developer Cansino Biologics Inc (Credits: AP)
A vaccine taken orally could also fend off the virus before it reaches the rest of the respiratory system, though that would depend in part on the size of the droplets, one expert said.
Larger droplets would train defences in parts of the mouth and throat, while smaller ones would travel further into the body, said Dr Vineeta Bal, an immunologist in India.
Women wearing face masks wait in line to get Covid-19 throat swab tests at a testing site in Beijing (Credits: AP)
Chinese regulators approved the vaccine for use as a booster in September. It was developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Cansino Biologics Inc as an aerosol version of the same company’s one-shot adenovirus vaccine, which uses a relatively harmless cold virus.
Cansino has said the inhaled vaccine has completed clinical trials in China, Hungary, Pakistan, Malaysia, Argentina and Mexico.
A woman rides past a coronavirus testing facility displaying posters promoting the Covid-19 vaccination in Beijing (Credits: AP)
Regulators in India have approved a nasal vaccine, another needle-free approach, but it has yet to be rolled out. The vaccine, developed in the US and licensed to Indian vaccine-maker Bharat Biotech, is squirted in the nose.
About a dozen nasal vaccines are being tested globally, according to the World Health Organisation.
Shanghai has started offering residents a Covid vaccine inhaled through the mouth.