There may soon be an option to take a pill rather than a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
A new paper in the journal Biology Methods and Protocols, published Wednesday by Oxford University Press, reported that researchers in Japan have developed a way to administer the COVID vaccine orally.
The pill would allow for easier distribution and would be more effective at combatting illness.
Similar to the shot, the pill contains a small inactive part of the virus, but it releases into the mucus rather than the blood so it’s closer to the actual virus and can combat it faster.
Neutralizing viruses is most effective before they can get inside human cells and are only on the external surface of epithelial cells that generate mucus in the lungs, nose and mouth, the press release explained.
Since the coronavirus infects the bronchial cells, the researchers believe it’s vital for the antibodies to be released in the mucus rather than the blood.
A specific class of antibodies, Immunoglobulin A, can operate in mucus and can knock out the virus — but the production of these antibodies needs to be induced by a vaccine first.
When given to monkeys, the researchers found that the pill produced the antibodies needed to combat COVID-19 without causing any apparent side effects.
The findings suggest that clinics could soon offer an oral vaccine to protect against COVID-19 with further research — a method that would be both more popular and more successful.
Scientists have recently been developing vaccines that are administered in forms rather than a shot, such as orally or nasally.
The Food and Drug Administration approved new and updated COVID vaccine boosters on Monday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone ages six months and up should get the new shot.
Just like how the flu shot is updated every year to target the virus circulating, health officials say that an updated booster for COVID-19 can strengthen immunity, especially going into respiratory virus season.
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