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Will we have a COVID-19 vaccine this year? As 2020 gets closer to its end, this seems like unrealistic. Even when vaccines do come out this year, it may take another year for common people to get vaccinated. A major challenge would be to distribute the doses to people in rural and remote regions, which have less access to healthcare than their urban counterparts. Here's the good news! Researchers at Columbia University have developed a nasal spray that could help bridge the gap in areas where mass vaccination won't be possible. It can be inhaled by individuals to get protected against the novel coronavirus.
The nasal spray was found effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in tests conducted with ferrets along with a 3D model of human beings. It works instantly and the effect lasts for a full 24 hours. The best thing about this product is that it's less expensive and requires no refrigeration.
The nasal spray has a lipid and peptide combination that prevents the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from attaching with a cell's membrane. It does so by blocking a key protein from transforming into a particular shape. However, the spray still needs to be tested on humans to confirm its effectiveness before producing it on a massive scale.
Anne Moscona and Matteo Porotto, the researchers working on the nasal spray, hope that it could help to bridge the gap in areas where mass vaccinations won't be possible, while also complementing areas where vaccines are readily available.
Many drugmakers around the world are targeting to release their potential coronavirus vaccine candidates by the end of this year or early next year. US-based pharmaceutical major Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech on Monday released the first results of their late-stage Phase 3 trial which showed that their mRNA-based vaccine candidate is over 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19. The companies expect to seek U.S. authorization for emergency use of the vaccine this month. Countries like Britain, China and Russia are also hoping to release their vaccines this year.
Russian health ministry also released a statement on Monday stating that their Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is more than 90% effective.
"We are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the Sputnik V vaccine among citizens who have received it as part of the mass vaccination programme. Based on our observations, it is also more than 90%," Reuters quoted Oksana Drapkina, director of a research institute under the health ministry, as saying in the statement.
Mention may be made that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has already submitted applications for accelerated registration under emergency use listing (EUL) and prequalification of Sputnik V vaccine to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Meanwhile, manufacturing of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate has begun in Australia. The country's biotechnology company CSL Limited is making about 30 million doses of the vaccine, which is still under phase-3 clinical trials.
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier said that the Oxford's coronavirus vaccine, dubbed Covishield in India, could be ready for roll-out as early as December if clinical trials succeed.
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