Skin patch coated in covid-19 vaccine may work better than injections

The current Covid-19 vaccines must be kept at room temperature. However, a patch covered with tiny plastic spikes and coated in a vaccine might offer an alternative.
The square vaccine patch is inside an applicator David Muller/University of Queensland

According to mice, a skin patch that administers covid-19 vaccines provides greater immunity protection than traditional injections. The patch can be kept at room temperature and administered by self, so it is suitable for use in areas without cold storage or medical staff.

Covid-19 vaccines are available in many countries. However, they must be transported and kept at low temperatures. David Muller, from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, said that we wanted an alternative that would last long enough to make it to the end, particularly in places with limited resources.

Muller and his coworkers spent many years creating a skin patch that delivers influenza, polio and other vaccines. It does not require cold storage or needles. They were curious if this same technology could also be used to deliver covid-19 vaccines.


Each of the 5000 small plastic spikes is about a centimetre in width and is coated with dried vaccine, which is more stable than liquid forms. An applicator is used to apply the vaccine onto the patch.

Muller says that this method of administering vaccines tends to produce stronger immune responses, as the skin is rich in immune cells. This skin patch can be used to administer flu vaccine. It produces a stronger immune response than the usual dose.

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Researchers tested the patch using a covid-19 vaccine candidate, HexaPro. This vaccine was developed by researchers at Texas at Austin and is still being evaluated in clinical trials. It is more heat-resistant and less expensive to make than other vaccines.

The patch protected mice from becoming sick even if they received a single dose. Mice that were treated with it developed coronavirus antibodies that were higher than those who were injected with vaccine.

The HexaPro vaccine was stable at least for one month when stored at 25C, and for one week at fortyC.

Next year will see the first human trial of the covid-19 skin patch. Muller says that it may be used to administer booster doses or protect against new strains of virus.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj8065

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