Experts are working on a new COVID vaccine patch

Jennifer Savin
·3-min read
Photo credit: Paper Boat Creative - Getty Images
Photo credit: Paper Boat Creative - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Since the news broke back in December that a vaccine for COVID 19 had been successfully developed and passed clinical trials, we've all been waiting patiently to have ours administered (the order in which people are receiving it depends on age, your risk of falling seriously ill and whether or not you're a frontline worker). Now, experts are discussing the possibility that the vaccine could be joined by an alternative method in future, such as a patch or a nasal spray.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Kate Bingham, who headed up the government's Vaccine Taskforce between May and December last year, was critical of the way the vaccine has being rolled out and the fact that two doses of the formula are required. However, it's worth noting that while Bingham held such a position, her background is in business development within the pharmaceutical sector, as opposed to being a vaccine expert per se.

Her comments on an alternative delivery method though, are still interesting: "We need to improve the vaccine formats because, frankly, two injections delivered by healthcare professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines." She added, "We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so, whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays, we need to find better ways of developing and delivering vaccines."

Photo credit: Halfpoint Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Halfpoint Images - Getty Images

She's also not the only one airing such theories either, as research into a COVID 19 patch is underway by a team from Swansea University Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT). The group of scientists there are working on developing a microneedle patch to deliver the vaccine whilst simultaneously measuring a person's inflammatory responses to said vaccination (by keeping tabs on biomarkers in the skin).

The microneedles would be used to break through the skin barrier in order to dispense the vaccine formula and would allow for lower doses to be used, which in turn may lead to a more cost-effective solution to rolling out the vaccine to so many people. Other medicines that are distributed via patch include the contraceptive patch, which releases synthetic oestrogen and progestogen hormones to prevent pregnancy.

Speaking about the long-term aim of the project, Health Europa report that Dr Sanjiv Sharma, who is leading the work, said, "The primary goal is to create a prototype of smart vaccine delivery device that can not only deliver the COVID-19 vaccine transdermally [via the skin] but also monitor biomarkers in the skin compartment in a minimally invasive way, offering real-time information on the efficacy of the vaccination."

Sharma added, "The new method would change the way in which vaccine efficacy trials are performed from a statistical assessment to a scientific measurement of patient inflammatory response to vaccination."

Currently it's reported by the BBC that over 7.4 million people have already received the first dose of a vaccine and that around 470,000 people have had their second shot.

Cosmopolitan UK's February issue is out now and you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

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