China has started administering the world’s first inhalable COVID-19 vaccine in Shanghai.
Fully vaccinated residents in Shanghai lined up on Wednesday to receive the needle-free booster dose.
“It was like drinking a cup of milk tea,” said one Shanghai resident who received the vaccine. “When I breathed it in, it tasted a bit sweet.”
The vaccine is a mist that is inhaled through the mouth. Individuals are asked to deeply inhale a cup until no aerosol is left before holding their breath for five seconds.
The aerosol vaccine, which was developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics, was approved for use as a booster in September. It has reportedly completed clinical trials in other countries besides China, including Hungary, Pakistan, Malaysia, Argentina and Mexico.
According to one expert, the vaccine administered through the mouth could stop the virus before it reaches the rest of the respiratory system. Large size droplets would train defenses in an individual’s mouth and throat, while smaller droplets would travel further into the body.
Scientists believe that the aerosol vaccine will appeal to those afraid of needles and could boost vaccination rates in poorer countries because they are easier to administer.
Although a booster dose of the new vaccine is available to those over the age of 18 and fully vaccinated, the vaccine will not be administered to everyone.
“For example, those with other respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and lung diseases are not suitable for the inhaled COVID-19 vaccine,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention official Zhou Jie said.
China has not mandated the COVID-19 vaccination. However, the ruling Communist Party wants more citizens to receive booster shots before the nation eases its pandemic restrictions.