Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local

COVID nasal vaccine shows promise, awaits approval in US

A San Diego county employee explains the testing process to a person with an appointment at a San Diego County COVID 19 testing station by the SDCCU Stadium on May 18, 2020.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
A San Diego county employee explains the testing process to a person with an appointment at a San Diego County COVID-19 testing station by the SDCCU Stadium on May 18, 2020.

As we enter the holidays we’re also getting into the season of respiratory infections. And nasal vaccines, a spray applied in the nose, may be the best way to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19, said Dr Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Booster shots do a very good job of preventing severe cases of COVID-19. Citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, Topol said keeping up with the latest boosters reduces the chance of elderly people being hospitalized with COVID-19 by 80%.

But he said booster shots don’t do much to prevent actual COVID-19 infection. Now, wearing a mask does help with that.

Advertisement

“But they’re not perfect by any means, and there’s reluctance to use them,” Topol said. “It’s hard to use them in a holiday gathering, and you’re having a meal or a party and it’s hard to wear a mask throughout all that. So we need something more than masks. And there’s really only one other thing we can do.’

He said nasal vaccines are our best shot to block infections. Those spray vaccines are effective in the very place where virus-laden aerosols enter the body. They’re already being used in India and China.

“I’m confident we will have nasal vaccines that work. The only question is, do they work for a few months or is it longer,” Topol said. “It should work against all of the variants. And this is something that is very exciting; the ability to block infections and the whole chain of transmission.”

Without giving details, Topol said he expects to see some news from health officials about nasal spray availability in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile he says San Diego is going through its worst flu season in years. The good news: This year’s flu vaccine, which targets four different strains, is providing some good protection. People just need to get the shot.