It is a method of administration that has only been very little explored since the start of the health crisis: teams of researchers are working to develop a vaccine that could be administered by the nasal route. These vaccines would stimulate the immune defenses of the mucous membranes and block the virus when it enters the body.
Soon you may not have to roll up the sleeve of your sweater or T-shirt to get vaccinated. Currently, several teams of French researchers such as the Institut Pasteur or the start-up Theravectys are working on vaccines that can be administered by the nasal route. The process is still very little used in the world: according to West France, out of the 300 vaccines that are being developed to fight Covid-19, only around 20 would allow this type of administration.
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An “injection” of vaccine via the nasal route would thus have the objective of strengthening the defense system of the mucous membranes. These are in direct contact with the outside, but have a particularly powerful defense system, with their own antibodies (IgA) and cells that eliminate viruses. The vaccines which are used today to fight against the virus do not stimulate (or little) this immune system: “RNA vaccines are a small miracle, but there are limits, estimates Éric Tartour, professor of immunology (hospital Georges-Pompidou, in Paris), interviewed by Ouest-France. They do not generate local immunity. You can be vaccinated, but infected with the virus that will proliferate in the nasal mucosa. And you can transmit it, even if you are asymptomatic “.
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Developing vaccines that can be administered by the nasal route would thus make it possible to block the virus as soon as it enters the body. The vaccines would thus make it possible to protect against serious forms of the disease but also to fight against contamination. “If we want to stop the epidemic, and it is a public health duty, it will take mucous vaccines, assures Professor Tartour. As long as the vaccines do not prevent the transmission and therefore the spread of the virus, we we will be under the threat of new variants “. For now, tests are underway, in particular to see if the formulas developed are effective against the Omicron variant.