China on Wednesday approved the first phase of human testing for a nasal spray vaccine, the first trial vaccine for the coronavirus that does not require a needle injection.

The spray vaccine was co-developed by researchers at Xiamen University and Hong Kong University with the aid of vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, Bloomberg reported.

Previously, the intranasal spray method has been used to administer flu vaccines for people seeking an alternative to injections. 


The latest vaccine marks the 10th candidate from China to enter human trials.

The announcement comes as the U.K.-headquartered company AstraZeneca was forced to pause late-stage human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine after a spinal cord illness was detected in a patient who received the shot.

Advanced Chinese vaccine developers such as CanSino Biologics and state-operated China National Biotec Group have reassured their product’s efficacy amid setbacks experienced by AstraZeneca.

CanSino said its shot has been safe in trials and has not caused severe side effects.

An obstacle CanSino faces, however, is getting other nations to allow trials abroad. Critics are skeptical about the Chinese-made vaccine because it allegedly triggers fewer antibodies than other products currently under trial analysis, Reuters reported.

Zhu Tao, CanSino’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, defended the company’s vaccine against criticism, saying last week that the variation in antibody readings was due to different measuring methods.

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