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ST. LOUIS – The world had its first emergency-use COVID-19 nasal vaccine. It’s being used in India right now, but the technology behind the vaccine was made in Saint Louis.

Dr. David Curiel, the Director of the Biologic Therapeutic Center at Washington University’s School of Medicine, is pushing the science even further than before with vaccine research.

“Vaccines, to this point, have been very good at reducing severe disease, but they have not been as good at reducing person-to-person transmission,” Curiel told Fox 2. 

In less than two years, Curiel and fellow Washington University doctor, Dr. Mike Diamond, developed a vaccine that is delivered through the nasal canal that hits COVID at its core.

“We constructed the virus here and we tested it in our self-culture systems in this laboratory. Mike Diamond had very unique animal models and tested it there,” Curiel explained.

Curiel said the nasal vaccine has many advantages over the shot. He said it’s less invasive, can be more easily distributed, and there are fewer side effects.

“We also are hopeful that the waning immunity that we’ve seen with the M-RNA vaccines will be overcome by a longer immunity with this internasal vaccine,” Curiel said.

The two doctors then ran clinical trials alongside Bharat Biotech in India. Now, the vaccine is being given out in India on an emergency basis.

“This is the really compelling and exciting facet of my career – to develop something like this novel idea and to impact patients. What could be more gratifying? It’s very pleasing,” Curiel said. “I think that people don’t understand that when you go into research, you can actually accomplish patient impact in a short amount of time. Maybe if people knew that, more medical students would go into research.”

This is the second nasal vaccine to be developed after the flu and it’s the first nasal vaccine to target COVID-19. There is no update on when the vaccine could be available in countries other than India.