covid vaccine

Government-sanctioned Vaping? Nah, It’s Just the New Covid Vaccine

Squeamish around needles? If you live in Shanghai, you can now opt for inhalable Covid-19 vaccines — breath in that sweet, sweet anti-viral goodness

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Hayley Zhao
2:04 PM HKT, Tue November 1, 2022 1 mins read

Hate the soreness in your arm that comes after being vaccinated? Or are you simply scared of needles? Residents of Shanghai now have an alternative to Covid-19 vaccine injections: an aerosol vaccine inhaled through the mouth.


The procedure is simple: The doctor first fills a disposable cup with the vaporized vaccine. The patient must then inhale the mist through their mouth and hold their breath for five seconds — and that’s all there is to it. The whole process should take mere seconds.


“It’s like sucking up boba [chewy tapioca balls] from a cup of milk tea. It tastes a bit sweet,” said a Shanghai resident surnamed Chen in an interview with Tianmu News.


Covid-19 vaccine booster, inhalable vaccines

The vaccine cup. Image via Weibo


Developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics, the aerosol vaccine only contains one-fifth of the dosage found in regular intramuscular injections.


Dr. Zhu Tao, co-founder and chief scientific officer of CanSino Biologics, told Beijing-based, state-owned newspaper Science and Technology Daily that the inhalable vaccines are capable of inducing mucosal immunity and preventing the Omicron variant from infecting the upper respiratory tract — something that regular injections cannot achieve.


COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine, inhalable vaccines

A prototype of the inhalable booster. Image via CanSino Biologics


As the inhalable vaccine is much easier to administrate, scientists are hoping that it will make vaccinations more accessible in countries with fragile health systems, and persuade hesitant patients to get inoculated, reported the Associated Press.


However, the current aerosol vaccine can only be served as a booster to those who have had their first two shots and six months after their last injection.


Furthermore, parents with young children might be disappointed to learn that the booster is only available for patients 18 years and older.


The Chinese government has been trying to increase vaccination rates among its citizens but has yet to impose mandates in public spaces or schools. In July, authorities in Beijing attempted to impose a vaccine mandate but quickly dropped their decision after facing fierce public outrage.


According to state media outlet Xinhua News, 89.7% of the Chinese population has received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and 71.7% have received booster shots.


Cover image via Weibo

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