The only current protection against Kovid-19 is in the form of injections, according to experts.
But in the future, these vaccines could be given from inhalers or even pills.
In a white, spacious laboratory in the village of Medikon, one of the largest science parks in southern Sweden, chemist Ingemo Anderson has a thin, plastic inhaler the size of a half-matchbox.
His team hopes this small product can play an important role in the global fight against coronavirus, allowing people to take versions of future vaccine powders at home.
“It’s easy and really cheap to produce,” says Johan Waborg, general manager of a company that usually makes inhalers for people with asthma.
“Remove the small sheet of plastic and then activate the vaccine inhaler and put it in your mouth and take a deep breath.”
Ikonovo is collaborating with the organization for immunology research in Stockholm, ISR, which has developed a powdered vaccine against Kovid-19.
It uses the proteins produced by the virus (unlike Pfizer, Modern, and AstraZeneca, which use RNA or DNA encoding these proteins) and can withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
This is one of the main differences regarding the storage of currently available coronavirus vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), all in liquid form.
They must be stored in glass bottles resistant to temperatures of up to -70 degrees Celsius before being transferred to the refrigerator, or they lose their effectiveness, known as the “cold chain”.
“Vaccine [u prahu] it could be distributed very easily without a cold chain and people can take it on their own, without the help of doctors and medical staff, “said Ola Winkvist, founder of the ISR, professor of immunology at the Karolinska Institute, one of the most important medical universities in Sweden.
Like dried frozen foods
The company is currently testing the drug in the beta (South African) and Alpha (British) variants of Kovida-19.
He believes it could be extremely useful in accelerating the distribution of vaccines in Africa, where there are currently no domestic vaccine manufacturers. and a warmer climate and limited electricity supply have posed major challenges in vaccine storage and distribution before they expire.
However, much remains to be done before trials indicate the full potential of the SRI vaccine and must answer the question of whether it can provide the same level of protection as vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.
So far, it has only been tested in mice, although SRI and Ikonovo have raised enough funds to start studies in humans in the next two months.
But there is already optimism in the medical community that powdered vaccines like this could be a revolutionary global response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as facilitating the storage and distribution of vaccines for other diseases.
“It would really open up opportunities in hard-to-reach areas and perhaps save people who now carry refrigerators (with vaccines) on bicycles and camels,” said Stefan Swartling Peterson, head of UNICEF’s global health service from 2016 to 2020.
He compares the potential impact to freezing dry food, which has proven “fantastic when going to all sorts of weird places where there is no electricity,” whether for medical staff or just for adventurers.
While companies around the world are researching dust vaccines, Swartling Peterson is aiming for another startup with “promising technology,” just a 10-minute walk from Icons.
Zikum (Ziccum) tests the technology to air dry existing or future liquid vaccines in a way that does not limit their effectiveness.
This could facilitate the creation of “complete and comprehensive” laboratories in developing countries, which will allow them to complete the final stages of vaccine production on domestic soil.
The vaccine powder would be mixed with a sterile aqueous solution immediately before vaccination and then injected with vials and needles.
However, the technology is opening up to other variations, from nasal sprays to tablets, says its CEO Goran Konradson.
“It takes a lot of research and development. But in principle, yes.”
A “greener” alternative
Jansen, who has produced a single-dose coronavirus vaccine, is already working on a pilot project designed to analyze Zikum’s idea.
The pharmaceutical giant does not say whether this is related to coronavirus or other infectious diseases, but a spokesman said the research is part of a major investigation into new technologies that have the potential to facilitate distribution, administration and compliance with future vaccines.
Kovid-19 vaccines or medicines in powder or tablet form can also make it easier for people who are afraid of needles and offer a “greener” alternative to liquid vaccines by reducing the electricity needed to power refrigerators and freezers that they are commonly used to store vaccine bottles.
And it could help the world be better covered by vaccine levels.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” Conradson says.
“You never know what will happen if [još] you have a crown virus somewhere in the world “.
“We must allow vaccines to be delivered to people from all walks of life to fight epidemics and pandemics worldwide,” agrees Ingrid Kroman, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Preparing for Epidemiological Innovation (Cepi), a global nonprofit working to accelerate vaccine development.
He is cautious and says that powdered vaccines are still in the early stages of testing development and there is still a lot of work to be done.
“But if successful, it could contribute to better access to vaccines, reduce waste and reduce the costs of vaccination programs.”