Nasal Vaccination Against SARS-CoV-2: Synergistic or Alternative to Intramuscular Vaccines?

Mattia Tiboni, Luca Casettari, Lisbeth Illum

It is striking that all marketed SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are developed for intramuscular administration designed to produce humoral and cell mediated immune responses, preventing viremia and the COVID-19 syndrome. They have a high degree of efficacy in humans (70–95%) depending on the type of vaccine. However, little protection is provided against viral replication and shedding in the upper airways due to the lack of a local sIgA immune response, indicating a risk of transmission of virus from vaccinated individuals.

A range of novel nasal COVID-19 vaccines are in development and preclinical results in non-human primates have shown a promising prevention of replication and shedding of virus due to the induction of mucosal immune response (sIgA) in upper and lower respiratory tracts as well as robust systemic and humoral immune responses. Whether these results will translate to humans remains to be clarified. An IM prime followed by an IN booster vaccination would likely result in a better well-rounded immune response, including prevention (or strong reduction) in viral replication in the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

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