Scientists working on ideal COVID-19 vaccine: Single dose, room temp & self-administered

Researchers are testing several approaches as they develop COVID-19 vaccines that allow for more convenient administration and storage.

The three COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use are safe and effective, but not ideal for seamless administration because of ultracold storage temperature requirements, two-dose regimens and their need to be administered by a healthcare professional.

Deborah Fuller, PhD, a vaccine researcher at the Seattle-based University of Washington, told NPR the ideal COVID-19 vaccine would be "administered in a single shot, be room temperature stable, work in all demographics and, even pushed beyond that, ideally be self-administered."

Below are six efforts underway to develop a COVID-19 vaccine closer to Dr. Fuller's ideal:

  1. South San Francisco-based Vaxart is developing a vaccine candidate that can be formulated into a pill and stored at room temperature.

  2. Gaithersburg, Md.-based Altimmune is working on a single-dose vaccine candidate that can be self-administered as a nasal spray. Frances Lund, PhD, who is chair of the microbiology department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is working on the effort, told NPR this type of vaccine provides systemic protection against COVID-19 while also giving recipients immunity directly at the site where it was administered, making it difficult for the coronavirus to enter through the nose.

  3. Oxfordshire, England-based Enesi Pharma is working on a device that painlessly implants vaccines under patients' skin.

  4. Codagenix, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based company, is developing a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine designed to squirt up the nose.

  5. Cambridge, Mass.-based Vaxess Technologies is developing a combination COVID-19 and influenza vaccine patch designed so that patients can administer it yearly from their own homes.

  6. Vaxxas, also based in Cambridge, Mass., is developing COVID-19 vaccine patch technology as well. 

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