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Florida-Based Company Developing Intranasal COVID-19 Vaccine

(CW44 News At 10) - Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday all adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April. The update comes just two weeks after the Biden administration set a target date for vaccine eligibility for all adults by May 1st.

"I'm pleased to announce additional vaccine eligibility expansions," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a video announcement from his office Thursday. Governor DeSantis is lowering the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility age to 40 starting Monday and to age 18 on April 5th. "We've now vaccinated over 70% of the roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state."

Now with the need for more vaccines in the sunshine state the only Florida based company working on a vaccine, Oragenics Inc., just entered pre-clinical stages of vaccine development. Officials say it's not a shot could be easier than a shot and it's longer lasting.

"Clearly, supply is an issue that we need to always make sure that we're addressing. One of the other things is that, we don't know how long the current types of vaccines are going to last in their immunity" said President and CEO of Oragenics, Alan Joslyn, Ph.D. "We started out in this program with an arm injection, like everybody else. So, it's just kind of the way science evolves sometimes."

Setting themselves apart from big companies like Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer, Joslyn's team of scientists is working to find alternative injection methods.

"Those populations of people that don't like needles, children, part of the world that it's going to be difficult to get a traditional vaccine," he said. Their current focus: an intranasal spray.

"So you would literally take a mist and squirt it up your nose and it would have the vaccine in the mist and you breathe it in," he explained.

In response to Governor DeSantis' announcement Thursday, Joslyn tells me the drop in age requirement puts them ahead.

"Because young people don't always get as sick as old people, but they still carry the virus and spread it around. And that's where we looked at the situation and said, 'You know what, maybe this intranasal approach where we're attacking this virus right where you'd be spreading it made sense'," Joslyn says the immunity generated in their vaccine could ultimately last years and with just one dose. "We're in the process right now of making all the spike protein and testing out the ratios in animals right now. We take that information and submit it to the FDA and then we'll move into human trials later this year, early next year at the latest."

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