Nasal COVID Vaccines; More Female Neurosurgeons; HPV Vaccine Nasal COVID Vaccines; More Female Neurosurgeons; HPV Vaccine

Scientists Aim to Combat COVID With a Shot in the Nose
In hopes of staying ahead of an evolving SARS-Cov-2 virus, scientists turn to intranasal vaccines to trigger mucosal immunity.

Issue: Despite huge scientific gains in developing the original group of COVID vaccines, emerging variants threaten their effectiveness.

Solution: Intranasal COVID vaccines may be helpful in preventing transmission and reducing the burden of illness for those who are infected. Some intranasal vaccines are in development to kill SARS-CoV-2 in the nasosinus before it spreads deeper.

Caveat: Intranasal vaccines would likely be used to complement and bolster immunity achieved from intramuscular shots. So far, most trials have produced disappointing phase 1 results.

“No one here today can tell you that mucosal COVID vaccines work. We’re not there yet. We need clinical efficacy data to answer that question,” said Marty Moore, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer for California-based Meissa Vaccines. But there’s a potential for a “knockout blow to COVID, a transmission-blocking vaccine” from the intranasal approach, he said.

Increasing the Number of Female Neurosurgeons
Women account for only 8.4% of practicing neurosurgeons, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University.

To highlight and bring attention to the lack of female representation in neurosurgery, researchers evaluated data from more than 1500 neurosurgery residents over a 7-year period (2014-2020).

Trending up: The researchers found a low of 14% of women neurosurgery residents in 2016 and a high of 26% in 2019.

Schools with more clinical neurosurgeons on the faculty tended to have more women enter neurosurgery, but the gender of the neurosurgery faculty didn’t correlate with increased female recruitment.

Solutions: The researchers propose both a bottom-up and top-down approach involving action from medical students, residents, senior-level neurosurgeons, and neurosurgery program directions. They suggest things like female-led research programs, female-led neurosurgery interest groups, and more awareness campaigns about the disparity.

Single Dose of HPV Vaccine Is ‘Game Changer,’ Says WHO
The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) changed their recommendation to a single dose of the vaccine, stating that it achieves comparable protection against HPV to two-dose schedules.

Dose schedules: The updated HPV dose schedule now includes one or two doses for the primary target of girls aged 9-14 years, one- or two doses for young women aged 15-20 years, and two doses with a 6-month interval for women aged 21 years or older.

The new recommendations could be a “game-changer for the prevention of the disease” because they allow “more doses of the life-saving jab reach more girls,” according to a WHO press release.

Two doses in high-income countries: It remains unclear whether high-income countries are ready to move to a one-dose schedule, but it may help formally acknowledge that single doses can be a favorable outcome if second doses are refused by an individual or parent.

Kaitlin Edwards is a staff medical editor based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @kaitmedwards. For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.