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World's First Covid-19 Vaccine Patch Being Developed At Swansea University

Tom Wood

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World's First Covid-19 Vaccine Patch Being Developed At Swansea University

Featured Image Credit: BBC News

A vaccine 'smart patch' - the first in the world - is currently being developed by scientists in the UK and could be used to combat Covid-19.

The small silicone device is completely disposable and utilises microneedles to deliver the vaccine, as well as monitoring the success of the dose.

The patch is strapped to the arm of a patient for 24 hours and is then scanned in order to provide data to the researchers.

It's been developed by the scientists at Swansea University, who claim that the patch will offer an ideal solution for those who are scared of needles.

The vaccine patch uses microneedles to deliver the dose. Credit: Swansea University
The vaccine patch uses microneedles to deliver the dose. Credit: Swansea University

Dr Sanjiv Sharma, a senior lecturer at Swansea, told BBC News: "What we expect in response to the self-administration of this vaccine patch is to see the production of immunoglobulins, which the device will be able to detect.

"This low-cost vaccine administration device will ensure a safe return to work and management of subsequent Covid-19 outbreaks.

"Beyond the pandemic, the scope of this work could be expanded to apply to other infectious diseases as the nature of the platform allows for quick adaption to different infectious diseases."

As well as helping those who really hate needles, the patch will also be less painful than a jab because the microneedles are - obviously - smaller and therefore don't penetrate the skin as much.

Dr Sanjiv Sharma. Credit: BBC News
Dr Sanjiv Sharma. Credit: BBC News

PhD student Olivia Howells explained: "They do not penetrate as deeply into the skin and they do not stimulate the pain receptors, so they're less painful than a hypodermic needle."

To be fair, it's not exactly a big deal getting a jab or two if they are going to protect you against a potentially deadly virus and help the world return to some sense of normality - whatever that looks like - but if there is a less painful way that can be developed, that can only be a good thing.

Furthermore, it could provide a cheaper alternative to hypodermic needles, and the technology has applications well beyond vaccination against Covid-19, as it can be adapted to provide vaccines against other diseases and viruses.

It's still very early days for the project at the moment, but the team - working out of the universities IMPACT research centre, alongside scientists from Imperial College London - hope they can get a prototype version of the patch ready as early as March.

After that it will be up to them to perform human trials checking the delivery of the vaccine, as well as a whole host of other things, before it can achieve approval.

Topics: Science, World News, Coronavirus, Technology, Covid-19

Tom Wood
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