RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With another COVID-19 surge on the horizon, researchers are studying a new tool that may help fight the virus. Doctors at Wake Research are looking for people to be part of a clinical trial testing a nasal vaccine as a booster.

“The idea is that it mimics a natural infection,” explained Dr. Matthew Hong with Wake Research, which is headquartered in Raleigh.

Because the coronavirus naturally spreads through the nose, Hong says the nasal vaccine, which is similar to nose drops or nose spray, may create a stronger immune response.

The vaccine the company is testing is made by California company Meissa Vaccines.

“Up to 25 percent of your immunological tissue is in the respiratory tract,” Hong noted, “So the idea there is you’re basically putting this right where you’re going to get an enhanced immunological response as you would with a natural infection.”

He says immunity may last longer, as well.

“That’s been seen in other intranasal vaccines,” Hong said. “They seem to give a more durable response, so you wouldn’t need to keep getting boosted every three or four months.”

There’s also the obvious advantage — if the vaccine turns out to be effective: “It’ll help people who don’t like needles,” Hong said.

Hong expects the nasal booster to have similar side effects to the current vaccines, but instead of arm soreness, someone might get a stuffy nose or headache.

With COVID-19 still spreading and the virus constantly mutating, Hong says it’s important to continue to look for the best possible vaccines, and he looks forward to finding out whether this nasal booster makes the cut.

“This has to be shown to be at least as good, if not better, than what’s already in existence,” he said.

While this type of vaccine may eventually help people who don’t like needles, there is a good bit of blood work involved in the trial, so that part is not needle-free.

Wake Research is looking for study participants in Raleigh and Fayetteville. To enroll in the trial, people must be 18 to 55 years old, and in good health. They must have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna in the past, at least five months prior.

There is monetary compensation for participating in the trial. If you’d like to participate, click here
or call (919) 781-2514.