COVID-19: Scientists to test effectiveness of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a nasal spray

Scientists are planning to test the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when it’s administered using a nasal spray.

The University of Oxford is recruiting 30 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 40 who will receive the vaccine via an intranasal spray device – unlike the intramuscular injection given in the national rollout.

Similar to over-the-counter hay fever nasal sprays, scientists believe it could encourage more people to get inoculated.

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"There are a variety of people who will find an intranasal delivery system more appealing, which may mean vaccine uptake is higher in those groups," said Dr Sandy Douglas, who is leading the study.

"It might also have practical advantages – nasal sprays have been used successfully for other vaccines, for example the flu vaccine used in UK schools."

As part of the study, the researchers will examine the level of immune response when administering the shot through the nose, as well as monitoring the safety of this method and any adverse reactions.

"Some immunologists believe that delivering the vaccine to the site of infection may achieve enhanced protection, especially against transmission, and mild disease," said Dr Douglas.

Meanwhile, Dr Meera Madhavan, the lead clinical research fellow at the Jenner Institute, said: "This study will help us to understand the safety and side-effects associated with giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by nasal spray.

"It is an important first step towards increasing our range of options for curtailing the spread and impact of COVID-19 globally."

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