China’s CanSino Biologics will be starting clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine that is administered through inhalation next week, the company’s co-founder and Chief Executive Xuefeng Yu announced.
Efficacy rates for China’s Covid vaccines have been found to be lower than those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Earlier this month, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control publicly acknowledged that Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates” and that they were considering giving people different Covid shots to boost vaccine efficacy.
Yu said that an inhaled vaccine could be more effective than those injected given that the coronavirus enters the human body through the airways.
CanSinoBIO is jointly developing the inhalation vaccine with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. To be clear, the company’s Adenovirus Type 5 Vector vaccine — or Ad5-nCoV — administered by injection was already approved for use in China and several other countries.
Yu explained that theoretically, an inhaled vaccine could provide additional protection by activating antibodies or T cells — white blood cells that are vital to the immune system — in the airways.
If that protection layer fails and the virus travels deeper into the body, other parts of the immune system could still fight the Covid virus, added Yu.
“So you add more layers — makes sense, right? So that’s why we’re going through the mucosal route,” he said.
The CEO said the company has used the same concept to develop an inhalation vaccine for tuberculosis or TB. Trials conducted in Canada showed that the inhaled dosage for the TB vaccine needed to provide protection is “much, much less than the actual injection,” he said.