Costa Rica Participants in Study for a New Intranasal Vaccine Against Pertussis

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Costa Rica to Participate in Study for New Whooping Cough Vaccine

Costa Rica will be part of a study that aims to test a new whooping cough vaccine in children and young people. This intranasal vaccine, administered through an atomizer, targets the mucosa, the entry point for the disease-causing bacteria, to provide protection.

The Current Vaccine and Its Limitations

Currently, there is a vaccine available for whooping cough, which is administered alongside protection against diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae, and hepatitis B. Known as the pentavalent vaccine, it safeguards against the complications of five diseases and is given to infants at 2, 4, and 6 months, with a booster at 15 months.

However, this new single-dose vaccine aims to take a step further by targeting the site of entry for the pathogen, rather than relying on the bloodstream. The current vaccine, administered intramuscularly, protects individuals from severe diseases but does not prevent infection or transmission of the bacteria to others, according to Berman Siles Mora, a medical researcher at the Institute for Research in Medical Sciences (Icimed) in Costa Rica.

The Nature of Whooping Cough

An intranasal vaccine offers the opportunity to generate a local response in the mucosa, the entry point of the bacteria, which could generate a more extensive immune response. Illustration: Shutterstock

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. The bacteria enter through the nose and attach to the cilia, small hair-like extensions in the upper respiratory tract. They reproduce and release toxins that damage the cilia and cause inflammation of the airways, leading to the characteristic symptoms of the disease.

The bacteria responsible for whooping cough can easily spread from person to person through the air. When an infected individual sneezes or coughs, they release small particles containing the bacteria, which can be inhaled by others and result in infection.

Symptoms typically appear within 5 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria, although they can manifest up to 3 weeks later. Initially, the symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including a runny or stuffy nose, low-grade fever, occasional mild cough, and even apnea (pauses in breathing).

If left untreated, the disease can progress and lead to severe complications. After one or two weeks of initial symptoms, patients may experience rapid, violent, and uncontrollable coughing fits known as paroxysms. This can be particularly dangerous for individuals with compromised health, potentially requiring hospitalization.

In Costa Rica, the last reported death from whooping cough occurred in 2008, with the most recent outbreak in 2019 in the canton of Corredores, which saw 23 cases.

The Importance of the Clinical Trial

Given the increasing trend of pertussis infections in recent years, despite existing vaccines, there is a need for a new vaccine that can prevent the spread of the disease. The trial aims to investigate the efficacy of the intranasal vaccine, as it could potentially provide protection for a longer duration than current vaccines.

The study will focus on children aged six and young people up to 17 years old, with a goal of recruiting 300 participants in Costa Rica. The research team includes experts such as pediatric pulmonologist Lydianna Ávila de Benedictis, as well as pediatric infectologists María Luisa Ávila Agüero and Kattia Camacho Badilla.

Participation in the research is voluntary, and participants will be required to visit the research center at least four times over a six-month period. Some participants will receive the study vaccine, while others will receive an already approved whooping cough vaccine.

For more information, interested individuals can contact Icimed via email at or by calling 2296-0100. Alternatively, they can send a message to 8777-1878 or visit the following link:

Exposure to the bacteria and initially resemble those of a common cold. However, after about a week, severe coughing fits with a “whooping” sound may develop, hence the name “whooping cough.” It can be particularly dangerous for babies and young children, as it can lead to complications such as pneumonia, seizures, and even death.

The Importance of a New Vaccine

A new vaccine that directly targets the mucosa could offer several advantages in the prevention and control of whooping cough. By generating a local immune response at the entry point of the bacteria, it has the potential to provide more comprehensive protection compared to the current intramuscular vaccine. This could help reduce the spread of the disease and protect individuals from infection.

The study in Costa Rica hopes to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity, and effectiveness of the new intranasal vaccine in children and young people. If successful, it could pave the way for the development of a new and more effective vaccine against whooping cough.

Costa Rica’s participation in this study demonstrates its commitment to advancing medical research and improving public health. By contributing to the development of new vaccines, Costa Rica aims to protect its population and prevent the spread of infectious diseases like whooping cough.

What is the goal of the study in Costa Rica regarding the new intranasal vaccine for whooping cough, and how does it demonstrate Costa Rica’s commitment to improving public health

The goal of the study in Costa Rica regarding the new intranasal vaccine for whooping cough is to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in preventing the disease. This study demonstrates Costa Rica’s commitment to improving public health by actively investing in research and development of innovative preventive measures. By conducting this study, Costa Rica is taking proactive steps towards controlling and preventing the spread of whooping cough within its population, ultimately aiming to enhance the overall well-being of its citizens.

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1 comment

Avah June 23, 2023 - 2:22 pm

This study on a new intranasal vaccine against pertussis in Costa Rica is a significant step towards protecting individuals from this highly contagious respiratory disease. Exciting to see advancements in vaccine research!


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