China on Wednesday approved the first phase of human testing for a nasal spray vaccine, the first trial vaccine for the coronavirus that does not require a needle injection.
The aerosolized vaccine was jointly developed by researchers at Xiamen University and University of Hong Kong with help from vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, Bloomberg reported.
Previously, the intranasal spray method was used to deliver flu shots to people looking for an alternative to injections.
The latest vaccine marks the 10th Chinese candidate to participate in human trials.
The announcement comes as UK-based company AstraZeneca has been forced to suspend late-stage human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine after detection of spinal cord disease in a patient who received the vaccine.
Developers of advanced Chinese vaccines like CanSino Biologics and the state-run China National Biotec Group have reassured their product’s effectiveness in the face of the setbacks suffered by AstraZeneca.
CanSino said its injection was safe in trials and caused no serious side effects.
However, one hurdle that CanSino faces is getting other countries to allow overseas testing. Critics are skeptical of the Chinese-made vaccine because it is said to trigger fewer antibodies than other products currently under analysis, Reuters reported.
Zhu Tao, co-founder and scientific director of CanSino, defended the company’s vaccine against criticism, saying last week that the variation in antibody readings was due to different measurement methods.