If fear of needles is the reason for your vaccine hesitancy, then the new Covid vaccine might come as a relief. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, India, has approved Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid vaccine, iNCOVACC, for emergency use in adults. It will be available through as a booster shot on the CoWIN portal from the fourth week of January.
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iNCOVACC, developed in partnership with Washington University, St Louis, rolls out as India witnesses an increase in active Covid cases in the last few weeks. With the new vaccine —world’s first nasal vaccine, as stated by the Indian government—hitting the market, there are burning questions about it. We answer the most pressing ones.
According to Bharat Biotech, an intranasal vaccine stimulates a broad immune response—neutralizing IgG, mucosal IgA, and T cell responses. Immune responses at the site of infection, in the nasal mucosa, are important to block infection and transmission of Covid. The nasal route shows good potential for vaccination because of the organized immune systems of the nasal mucosa.
Adults over the age of 18 years who have completed the two doses of Covaxin or Covishield vaccinations but have not taken the booster shot are eligible to receive the nasal vaccine. Known as a heterologous booster, the nasal vaccine will be administered to people twice with a gap of 28 days.
Phase 3 clinical trial conducted with 3000 participants showed good immunity following two doses given four weeks apart. It is important to note that receiving the vaccine does not mean that other precautions related to Covid need not be followed.
The reported side effects include headache, fever, running nose, and sneezing. Bharat Biotech states that a severe allergic reaction may very rarely occur after getting a dose however no such event was reported in the clinical trial.
COVID-19 intranasal vaccine iNCOVACC is priced at ₹800 (excluding GST) for private markets and ₹325 (excluding GST) for government supplies.
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You can book the nasal vaccine as a booster shot from the fourth week of January through the CoWIN website. Log on to CoWIN’s official website (cowin.gov.in) and log in with your registered mobile number. Once logged in, check your vaccine status. Select the booster dose option. A booster dose can be administered nine months after the second dose of Covid vaccine. Search and choose the nearest vaccination centre using pin code or district name. Select the centre and confirm your booking.
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