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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As vaccine makers pursue the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines, some are working to develop products that wouldn't require a shot.

Why it matters: Delivering a vaccine through a pill or a nasal spray could make them much easier to administer, especially in places where distribution is challenging — or even for people who just don't like needles.

Driving the news: San Francisco-based biotech Vaxart is working on a COVID vaccine that would be delivered in an oral tablet.

  • India's Bharat Biotech advanced its nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate into a phase 2 clinical trial earlier this fall.

What they're saying: Vaxart founder and chief scientific officer Sean Tucker told Axios he started the company because he found it difficult to get his flu shot every year.

  • "I thought 'Hey, if someone mailed me a tablet in the mail every year, I would take that vaccine all the time,'" Tucker said.

State of play: Tucker will present details of the oral vaccine program at the World Vaccine & Immunotherapy Congress West Coast 2021 next week.

  • Vaxart began enrolling about 100 people in a Phase 2a clinical trial last month and expects to have a readout of that efficacy trial in the first quarter of 2022.
  • Vaxart's vaccine showed promise in animal trials, the results of which were published in early October.

What's next: Even if everything continues to go well, the earliest the company would be able to apply for an emergency use authorization from the FDA is still at least a year to 18 months away — but the world will still need COVID vaccines in a year to 18 months.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Nov. 24.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 6, 2021 - Health

NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Monday announced a new COVID vaccine mandate for all private companies.

Why it matters: De Blasio, speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said the "first-in-the-nation measure" will go into effect starting Dec. 27. It will apply to approximately 184,000 businesses.

Dec 5, 2021 - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.