A trial of a new needle-free Covid-19 vaccine, administered by a jet of air, has begun. It is hoped this new vaccine will be beneficial in protecting against future variants of the virus. Participants of the trial are aged 18-50 years old and have received their first two doses of the vaccine but not their booster dose.
Current COVID-19 vaccines injected via a needle, use genes from the spike protein of the virus to encourage our immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. On the other hand, this newly proposed vaccine uses predictive methods to target a broader range of coronavirus antigens. It is thought that this will provide more protection against the virus as a wider variety of antibodies will be created.
The Importance of Research in Medicine
Without research, the provision of necessary treatments for patients presenting with a variety of illnesses would not be possible. Medical research is also crucial for preventative strategies: the pandemic is a perfect example of this. Without the vaccine, developed by researchers and scientists, achieving herd immunity is not possible. The prospect of offering this needle-free vaccine to the public has numerous advantages: as it is less invasive it may increase vaccine uptake rate and also its ability to recognise a wider range of coronavirus antigens may provide better immunity against newer variants.
The Importance of Trials
Before any medication or treatment is offered to patients, it is vital that it is trialled to ensure safety and efficacy. Trials are designed in line with the pillars of medical ethics and involve an ethics committee. The results of trials can remove uncertainty and increase public trust in new interventions that are available to them and in turn increase the likelihood of uptake.
Protection Against Future Variants
A virus evolves through mutations. Because of this, vaccines targeting antigens of previous variants of the virus may become ineffective. This new vaccine offers a solution to this. By targeting a wider range of antigens, it is more likely it will remain effective against newer variants. In turn, this can reduce the burden on the NHS, enable the economy to stabilise and resume normality in people’s lives.
Why Do People Avoid Vaccinations? Could this new type of vaccine help resolve this issue?
Many people fear vaccines, for many different reasons. These range from the simple fear of pain or needles, to a lack of understanding of what the vaccine actually entails. If trialling this needle-free vaccine means that some of these issues are overcome, this might improve vaccine uptake and improve herd immunity against the virus.