If someone told you that you can be protected from all variants of COVID-19 from just a single sniff, avoiding all the registration, hospital visit inconveniences, you would probably be skeptical about that idea. But such a vaccine is undergoing human trial as we speak and in no other place than in Bangladesh! And with proper government approval, the vaccine could be available by the start of next year and Bangladesh may even be able to buy the vaccine at production cost or produce their own in the country.
Swedish research organisation Holding AB (ISR) was able to close the deal for human trials with the Bangladesh Government with the help of some Bangladesh-born doctors and scientists living in Sweden, the USA and Canada.
Prof Dr ABM Abdullah, a renowned physician, has said that the vaccine’s trial on mice has shown great results as the efficacy rate is close to 100% and there have been no signs of any side effects. To conduct the trials, ISR signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh Clinical Trials Ltd as its Contract Research Organisation (CRO) in early August.’
A big advantage of this nasal vaccine is that it uses dry powder made of manufactured COVID-19 virus proteins which can withstand temperatures up to 40 degrees celsius, consequently eliminating the purpose of cold chain storage( which can be hard to manage in a country like Bangladesh due to high energy costs). This will give Bangladesh a great opportunity to manufacture and store their own nasal vaccines at a very low cost. You can administer the vaccine to yourself without the need for Healthcare staff which will allow the staff to focus on other areas of the healthcare sector.
“We are very pleased to be working with experts from Bangladesh to conduct a Phase I clinical study with our vaccine formulations designed for optimal immune response at the entry point of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the respiratory tract.” , Ola Winqvist, the CEO of ISR, said in a press release on the ISR website. Phase 1 of the trial is expected to have 180 Healthy Individuals. Phase 2 and 3 of the trial will be conducted if Phase 1 is a success, according to Prof Abdullah. He also said that a second dose of the vaccine will be administered three to four weeks after the first one has been taken in.
The ISR have signed a memorandum of understanding with UniMed UniHealth Pharmaceuticals Ltd for the manufacture and distribution of the Nasal Vaccine in Bangladesh. UniMed will produce 100 million units per year and they are targeting to produce 300 million doses annually within the next 5 years.
Prof Dr Ahmedul Kabir Secretary general, Bangladesh Society of Medicine, has said that if everything goes according to plan and BMRC gives quick approval, the first phase of the trial will be completed by November and the third phase can be started as soon as December this year.
A nasal vaccine can revolutionize vaccination in the future. People can administer it all by themselves without the need for healthcare staff to be exposed. It is also friendly to those who have a fear for needles and will encourage them to take the vaccine. Let us hope and pray that this project becomes a success and becomes available soon.