The composition of a coronavirus nasal spray vaccine developed in Finland has been modified over the summer to provide better protection against common viral variants, according to the spray's designers.
"The objective is to offer the widest possible immunity against several different viral variants," Professor of Virology at the University of Helsinki Kalle Saksela, who is leading the project, told Svenska Yle.
The nasal spray vaccine is based on research carried out at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland, and has so far received "significant" funding of about 9 million euros after initially struggling to attract investors.
"It [the funding] was important for the project to progress. This would not have progressed so far as just an academic project. "Now companies that specialise in clinical trials are helping us," Saksela said.
The updated version will provide effective protection against the Delta variant and the newer Delta Plus variant, for example, and can also work as a booster vaccine for people who have already received some protection against the virus.
The project's developers are currently in discussions with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) about how many people must be tested during the trial period.
"Negotiations with the authorities will take place during the autumn at the same time as vaccine production begins. We hope we can start testing the vaccine at the turn of the year," Saksela said.
Updated vaccines must be retested on animals to ensure that it is working as intended, before it can be tested on humans. The results must also be verified by external, independent bodies.