Oxford plans to test a needle-free version of the COVID-19 vaccine

The University of Oxford has announced plans to study a nasal version of the COVID-19 vaccine, one that may be more effective than the intramuscular version by delivering the vaccine directly to the nose, which is the source of infection. The university describes this as a phase one trial that will involve 30 healthy adults ages 18 to 40 with a follow-up period of four months.

The purpose of this study, which will involve the same ChAdOx1 vaccine administered by injection, is to determine what kind of immune response nasal administration triggers. The researchers will likewise monitor for signs of any adverse events or safety issues that may arise from the nasal delivery.

The study participants will be chosen from the Oxford area, according to the University, which will wrap up phase one in a few months. As with other nasal vaccinations, the administration will involve a nasal spray device similar to the ones used for over-the-counter products.

The study's principal investigator Professor Adrian Hill explained:

This is an exciting new approach to administering a leading COVID-19 vaccine that could be very effective in preventing not just disease episodes but also asymptomatic infections, and thereby help reduce transmission in the population.

The researchers note that having a nasal vaccine option may increase the number of people who get vaccinated by removing the needle aspect, which may discourage those with phobias from seeing the vaccine. It's unclear when phase two of the trial, assuming it proceeds, is expected to start.