Scientists at Wales’ Swansea University have developed a plan to create a “smart patch” that would administer the COVID-19 vaccine while also monitoring its efficacy (and God knows what else).
World’s first smart #vaccine patch being developed by Swansea researchers.
✅Gives #COVID vaccine and….
✅Measures patient’s response
— Swansea University (@SwanseaUni) January 6, 2021
In a post published by Unilad, the research team said it plans to develop a prototype by the end of March in the hopes that it might pass clinical trials in time to be used before the global vaccination campaign finishes up.
According to the research team, the patch will use microneedles to both administer the coronavirus vaccine and monitor its efficacy for the patient by tracking the body’s immune response. Scientists at Swansea’s IMPACT research center hope to carry out human clinical studies in partnership with Imperial College London with the aim of making the device commercially available within three years.
Here’s how the “patch” (it looks more like a microchip) works:
Using polycarbonate or silicon millimetre-long microneedles, the smart patch can penetrate the skin to administer a vaccine. It can be held in place with a strap or tape for up to 24 hours, during which time it simultaneously measures a patient’s inflammatory response to the vaccination by monitoring biomarkers in the skin.
Once the vaccine has been administered, the device is scanned to produce a data reading that can provide an understanding about the efficacy of the vaccine and the body’s response to it.
The project received funding from the Welsh government. The research team hopes that even after COVID has passed, this microchipping technique could be used to treat other diseases – or maybe even one day it could help to program people to be immune.