China’s capital Beijing is providing inhalable COVID-19 vaccines as a booster dose in a bid to further encourage the population to get vaccinated amid another surge in coronavirus outbreaks across the country.
As of mid-October, 90 percent of Chinese were fully vaccinated and 57 percent had received a booster shot.
At least 11 districts in Beijing have begun taking appointments for taking the inhalable vaccine as a booster dose starting this week, according to the Global Times.
The vaccine, a mist that is sucked in through the mouth, is being offered as a booster dose for people who were previously vaccinated with 2 shots of China’s inactivated vaccines.
Those who already have 3 shots, or have taken foreign vaccines such as Pfizer or Moderna, will not be eligible, according to Shi Rujing, Director of the office on planned immunization of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Haidian District of Beijing.
Scientists hope that such “needle-free” vaccines will make vaccination more accessible in countries with fragile health systems because they are easier to administer. They also may persuade people who don’t like getting a shot in the arm to get inoculated.
China wants more people to get booster shots before it relaxes strict pandemic restrictions that are holding back the economy and are increasingly out of sync with the rest of the world.
The effectiveness of non-needle vaccines has not been fully explored. Chinese regulators approved the inhalable one in September, but only as a booster shot after studies showed it triggered an immune system response in people who had previously received two shots of a different Chinese vaccine.
The inhalable vaccine was developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics Inc. as an aerosol version of the company’s one-shot adenovirus vaccine, which uses a relatively harmless cold virus.
About a dozen nasal vaccines are being tested globally, according to the World Health Organization.