A vaccine patch.

Covid-19 vaccine patch more effective against Omicron than injection

Image credit: The University of Queensland

A patch that can deliver Covid-19 vaccines without needles could better fight variants such as Omicron and Delta, according to researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ).

The team tested a high-density microarray patch developed by biotechnology company Vaxxas and found that - when tested in mice - it was more effective at neutralising Covid-19 variants than injections.

“The high-density microarray patch is a vaccine delivery platform that precisely delivers the vaccine into the layers of the skin which are rich in immune cells,” said UQ’s Dr Christopher McMillan.

“We found that vaccination via a patch was approximately 11 times more effective at combatting the Omicron variant when compared with the same vaccine administered via a needle.

“So far, every vaccine type we have tested through the patch, including subunit, DNA, inactivated virus and conjugate produces superior immune responses compared to traditional needle vaccination methods.”

Currently available vaccines may not be as effective because of the constantly emerging new variants of Covid-19. 

“This decreased effectiveness was highlighted by the Omicron variant, which contains over 30 mutations in the spike protein,” UQ’s Dr David Muller said.

“The large number of mutations have given the virus the ability to evade the immune responses generated by the current vaccines.

“However, the patch technology has the potential to offer a new – and more effective – weapon in our arsenal, at a time where new variants are mutating at a rapid rate.

“The patches are not only more effective against emerging variants but are also far easier to administer than needle-based vaccines.

“It is important to stress that existing vaccines are still an effective way of combatting serious illness and disease from this virus and it is not the time to drop our guard.”

David Hoey, Vaxxas CEO, said this is further evidence of the game-changing potential the technology platform could have in helping nations better respond to global health emergencies, like the current and future pandemics.

“We are continuing to scale-up our manufacturing capabilities and accelerate product development in preparation for large-scale clinical trials,” he said.

“This includes construction of our first manufacturing facility in Brisbane to support the transition to commercialising of our HD-MAP vaccine candidates, including a Hexapro Covid-19 patch.”

Last week, University of Sydney researchers unveiled a sprayable coating that can prevent the surface spread of infection from bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19, over a sustained period.

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