WILL IT WORK?

UK professor develops needle-free Covid vaccine

Trials begins targeting new variants

In Summary
  • The vaccine can be delivered pain-free without a needle into the skin.

  • Funding for the needle-free vaccine and trial was provided by Innovate UK.

Professor Jonathan Heeney
Professor Jonathan Heeney
Image: Courtesy: University of Cambridge

We all have things we are afraid of, spiders, snakes, heights, flying, among other phobias.

However, one underrated phobia during this pandemic has been the fear of needles.

Without any set age limit, experts have warned that this fear, also known as trypanophobia may be preventing some people from getting the jab, among other perceived factors.

This applies, not only for Covid-19 but other vaccinations, blood tests or surgical procedures, which may keep these people from seeking medical care.

To solve the slow rates of vaccination, Prof Johnathan Heeney of Cambridge University has created a vaccine that is delivered through a jet of air.

However, the new needle free Covid-19 vaccine is undergoing testing to guard against future strains.

As the Chief Executive of DIOSynvax says, if successful, it could scale up and be manufactured as powder to boost global vaccination efforts in low and middle income countries.

“We need newer technologies as new variants emerge,” Heeney says.

He claims that the DIOS-CoVax vaccine employs new techniques to treat the disease and offers considerably greater protection against Covid variations and other corona viruses.

“This new DIOSvax technology uses predictive methods to encode antigens like the spike protein that mimic the wider family of coronavirus antigens, thus giving wider protection unlike most Covid-19 vaccines which use the sequence of the RNA for the virus spike protein from the first isolated samples of the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

The vaccine is delivered using a needle-free 'injection'
The vaccine is delivered using a needle-free 'injection'
Image: (Credit: Lloyd Mann)

A spring-powered jet injection delivers it into the skin. Thus, the needle-free covid vaccine provides an alternative to needle-based injections for those who are afraid of them.

The first volunteer will receive the vaccine this week at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility.

“We’re asking for their help again in developing this potentially game-changing vaccine,” Prof Faust director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility said.

The vaccine can be delivered pain-free without a needle into the skin, using the PharmaJet Tropis intradermal needle-free injection system, which delivers the vaccine in less than a tenth of a second by spring-powered jet injection.

Funding for the needle-free vaccine and trial was provided by Innovate UK, part of the UK Research and Innovation network.