Almost 50 Brits to be given nasal spray Covid-19 vaccine next month

Scientists to trial first nasal spray Covid vaccine on 48 UK volunteers from January

  • New York company Codagenix said human studies to begin first week of January
  • Codagenix says its computer-edited virus is 1,000 times slower than real thing
  • Given via a nasal spray, in the same way the influenza jab is given to children

A nasal spray Covid-19 vaccine which uses a weakened form of the virus will be trialled on almost 50 Brits next month, it was announced today.

New York-based company Codagenix said human studies of its experimental vaccine, COVI-VAC, will begin on 48 people in London in the first week of January.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) green-lit the trials after positive safety data in animal studies. 

COVI-VAC is a type of live attenuated vaccine, meaning trialists will get a genetically-modified version of Covid that is weaker than the real thing but still infectious.

Live attenuated vaccines — such as the MMR jab — work by stimulating the immune system in the same way that real disease would, but by relying on viruses unable to cause severe illness. 

Codagenix’s vaccine is administered by a nasal spray, in the same way the flu jab is given to children.

COVI-VAC will not need a needle and syringe or ultra-cold storage, the companies said, unlike other vaccines which need to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, including Pfizer’s.

A nasal spray Covid-19 vaccine which uses a weakened form of the virus will be trialled on almost 50 Brits next month. Nasal spray vaccines are already used for flu in children

The version of the coronavirus used in Codagenix’s vaccine is thought to multiply at around a thousandth of the rate of the wild virus (Pictured: The viruses in petri dishes, with the wild one on the left seen to be multiplying faster)

Codagenix says its vaccine was successful after a single dose in animal trials and is designed to produce immunity against various parts of the coronavirus, rather than just the ‘spike protein’ on the outside that many others have focused on.

This could mean it would still work even if the virus mutated. Using a live virus may enable medics to create a type of immunity that is similar to what the body would make naturally.

Codagenix’s vaccine will work by using a slowed-down version of the coronavirus and injecting it into participants. 

GPs in England start offering Pfizer Covid jab from surgeries and town halls today 

GP surgeries in England will begin offering coronavirus vaccinations from today.  

Practices in more than 100 locations will have the approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine delivered to them today, with some offering the jab within hours.

The vaccination clinics will operate from doctors’ surgeries or community hubs in villages, towns and cities. 

NHS England and NHS Improvement said the majority of GPs will begin providing vaccination services to their local community from Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, care home residents in Scotland are due to receive the vaccine for the first time from today. 

NHS staff including nurses and pharmacists will work alongside GPs to inoculate those aged 80 and over, as well as care home workers and residents.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘GPs and our teams are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the community whilst also delivering the expanded flu vaccine programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.’

Covid-19’s ability to cause infection and serious disease relies on the virus multiplying rapidly inside the body before the immune system can stop it.

As it does this it can take over the lungs and blood vessels and cause the body to scramble to get rid of it, causing the tell-tale symptoms of fever and coughing, which are the immune system’s attempts to cook or expel the viruses. 

Codagenix’s weakened form of the virus, however, can only multiply about one thousandth as fast as the wild strain (0.1 per cent of the speed).

The company developed the weaker virus by changing its genetic code using a computer programme so that it looks exactly like the wild virus. 

Normally the coronavirus uses easy-to-decode sections of genes which allow it to hijack living cells and use them to multiply itself. The modified virus, however, takes significantly longer to achieve the same result.    

This means it cannot get a head-start on the immune system and the body should be able to destroy it – and form a memory of how to destroy it – before it can cause illness. 

MailOnline reported in September that Codagenix’s trials were going to be held in the same facility as ‘challenge trials’ – in which people who have been vaccinated are deliberately exposed to the virus to test the jabs.

Codagenix has previously been reported to be joining the experiment. Details of exactly how the trial of the live attenuated vaccines will be structured have not yet been announced. 

The vaccine is likely to be trialled at a 24-bed clinic in Whitechapel, East London, where participants will be quarantined.  

The hVIVO clinic will also host ‘challenge trials’ of coronavirus vaccines, in which people who have had the jabs will be deliberately infected.

Although it is unclear whether Codagenix will take part in this, medical news website BioWorld reported in July that the company was planning to do so.  

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