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COVID vaccines

COVID nasal spray vaccine set to enter clinical trial in Japan

Shionogi's inoculation method to help emerging nations lacking medical staff

A nurse gives a nasal spray to administer a vaccine for the H1N1 virus. Shionogi is developing a similar vaccine for the coronavirus.   © Getty Images

OSAKA -- Shionogi will start clinical trials for a COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine in fiscal 2022, the Japanese pharmaceutical company announced Tuesday, paving the way for an inoculation method that would benefit countries lacking medical staff.

Shionogi has a licensing agreement with HanaVax to develop a nasal spray vaccine using the venture's proprietary drug delivery system. The technology uses a polysaccharide substance to deliver the vaccine through the nose, inducing immunity in the respiratory system.

Under an agreement signed in July, Shionogi has exclusive rights to develop and market a vaccine based on the technology. HanaVax was spun off from the University of Tokyo.

Shionogi also announced it is planning a clinical trial for a separate injected coronavirus vaccine for use as a booster shot, which could be brought to market by March.

Meanwhile, the final phase of a clinical trial started in Japan for Shionogi's antiviral drug for coronavirus patients with no or mild symptoms. Demand is high for an easy-to-administer oral treatment for COVID-19.

The antiviral drug blocks an enzyme needed for the virus to replicate. By giving it to people in the early stages of the illness, Shionogi hopes to prevent patients from developing serious conditions and ease such symptoms as coughing and fever. The oral medicine will be administered once a day for five days.

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