Close-up of a microneedle (top) compared to a hypodermic needle, showing how microneedles are far less invasive. (Credit: Swansea University)

Researchers are developing a smart vaccine device that will both deliver the COVID-19 vaccine and measure its efficacy through monitoring the body’s associated response. The research will produce the vaccine through the use of microneedles to create a smart patch. This device will simultaneously measure a patient’s inflammatory response to the vaccination by monitoring biomarkers in the skin.

The primary goal of the project is to create a prototype of smart vaccine delivery device that can not only deliver the COVID-19 vaccine transdermally but also monitor biomarkers in the skin compartment in a minimally invasive way, offering real-time information on the efficacy of the vaccination.

The new method would change the way in which vaccine efficacy trials are performed from a statistical assessment to a scientific measurement of patient inflammatory response to vaccination.

The real-time nature of the platform will mean rapid results allowing faster containment of the COVID-19 virus. This low-cost vaccine administration device will ensure a safe return to work and management of subsequent COVID-19 outbreak waves. 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 adaptation to different infectious diseases.