The team is using two vaccines already in development, one developed by Oxford, and an Imperial College one. Around 30 healthy volunteers will get the vaccine as a mist or aerosol, similar to asthma drugs that are inhaled via a nebuliser machine or a mouthpiece.
Getting the vaccine directly to the lungs
Lead researcher Dr Chris Chiu told the BBC: "The current pandemic is caused by a respiratory virus which primarily infects people through the cells lining the nose, throat and lungs.
“These surfaces are specialised and produce a different immune response to the rest of the body. So, it is critical we explore whether targeting the airways directly can provide an effective response compared to a vaccine injected into muscle."
Finding the right delivery method
Professor Robin Shattock, Research Lead on the Imperial vaccine, added: "A number of groups around the world are currently working on clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines. And these will tell us whether these candidates can produce a systemic immune response against the virus.
"However, these trials are unlikely to tell us anything about the localised response in the nose, throat and airways - where the virus primarily attacks and invades cells. It may well be that one group has the right vaccine but the wrong delivery method. And only trials such as this will be able to tell us that."
Currently, almost 180 vaccines are being tested globally, but none of them have reached the final stage yet. The Oxford vaccine trial recently had to be paused when one of the trial patients got ill. At least, with trials being conducted, we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. And with that, there’s hope that things may begin to return to some kind of ‘normal’ again. While tech has been a saviour in terms of connecting friends, family and businesses, the ability to move more freely again will be a relief for many – not least the travel industry.