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Needle-Free COVID Vaccines- A Promising Future

Published on Jan 10, 2022 and last reviewed on May 12, 2022   -  4 min read


Read the article to know the needle-free vaccines developed worldwide so far and the technology to deliver this immunization effectively.

What Brought the Need for Needle-Free COVID Vaccines?

Clinical trials are underway to develop needle-free vaccinations that would promise a more excellent public immunity in the near future to target emerging variants of the coronavirus globally. To combat the future variants of COVID-19, scientists at the University of Cambridge have now begun the clinical trial of a needle-free air-powered vaccine. This vaccine developed at the University of Cambridge is deemed a potentially futuristic jab to administer the coronavirus vaccine directly through air-jet technology into the skin without using a needle.

What Is the Advantage of the Needle-Free COVID Vaccine?

The benefits of the needle-free jab are also for those who fear needle-based jabs. A successful boost to these newer technology needleless jabs can be of particular use to boost global vaccination efforts worldwide, even in developing countries.

Needle-Free COVID Vaccine Developed by the University of Cambridge:

Professor Jonathan Heeney and chief executive of DIOSynVax have developed this air-jet technology believing that it would increase the spectrum of vaccine action against the newer variants of the SARS COV-2 pathogen. Also, they are of the opinion that the more recent technology needs to be implemented to build individual and mass immunity against these current variants like delta and omicron. Clinical trials are underway wherein the NIHR Southampton clinical research facility tests the vaccine on volunteers.

The vaccine called DIOS-CoVax is a new-generation vaccine that is different from the mechanism of action of the current COVID-19 vaccines being publicly used. Currently, the vaccine used against COV-2 uses genes from the virus spike protein that encodes antigens and causes our immune system to produce antibodies. However, this newer needle-free air-jet vaccine has a mechanism of mimicking the more comprehensive variants of the coronavirus antigens, thus increasing its protective scope. A blast delivers the vaccine of air that delivers the vaccine directly into the skin.

Clinical Trials of the Hexapro Vaccine Developed by the University of Texas:

The University of Queensland has similarly developed an HD-MAP patch technology (high-density microarray patch) against the novel coronavirus with pocket-sized applicators delivering the vaccine with a single and pain-free click. As per biomolecular research, strong immune responses have been studied, which produces a rather efficacious reaction in mice exposed to the SARS COV-2 pathogen. The Hexapro vaccine delivered via an HD-MAP applicator rather than the conventional needle-based vaccination approach has the potential evidentially to neutralize multiple variants of CoV-2 pathogen (including the UK and South Africa variants).

Clinical trials underway for this Hexapro vaccine or HD-MAP technology are not only user-friendly. Still, they can also deliver an imperceptible 5000 microscopic projections of the vaccine into the skin surface. It takes more time for this technology to be fully utilized by the public because clinical trials need to be carried out. It is undergoing adequate funding to be accelerated and then have vaccine availability through this applicator vaccine delivery method to the public.

DNA-Based ZyCoV-D:

This is India's first attempt at a DNA-based needle-free COVID vaccine for individuals aged 12 years and above. Manufactured by an Ahmedabad-based Pharma company in India, Zydus Cadila or ZyCoV-D is an intradermal administration vaccine in a three-dose format. A special applicator gun is used for administering the vaccine as a narrow stream of fluid that enters the skin surface in about 1/10th of a second. The injector is needle-free, and the applicator device (stapler-sized) is used for administering 0. 1 ml of vaccine dose by dose on either arm during the three visits.

This technology is currently under trial and with a double advantage for training vaccinators to administer the needle-free vaccine quickly and for people with needle phobia who prefer this over the conventional vaccination.

What Is the Mechanism of Immunization of Needle-Free COVID Vaccines?

The COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus uses the S or Spike proteins to gain host entry into the immune system. These surface spike proteins of the virus then bind to the protein receptors or ACE2 receptors on the surface of our airway cells, allowing genetic material transfer of the viral pathogen into the host cell. The virus post hijacks the immune cells, replicates itself, and eventually spreads through infecting the airway. The primary benefit of any vaccine against a viral pathogen is that the vaccine helps avoid life-threatening effects by immunization of our body.

What Is Vaccine Escape?

In the case of SARS-CoV-2 pathogen that is constantly mutating and the spike protein part of the virus prone to changes, this raises the difficulty level for the vaccine to be efficacious against every variant. The purpose of immunization is defeated because the immune cells that can block the viral pathogen or destroy the cells that carry the spike protein of coronavirus will escape the bodily defense, breaching our immunity. This, in other words, is referred to as "vaccine escape," where our immune system cannot recognize the changes to the Spike protein of the CoV-2 pathogens multiple mutating variants.

The needleless air-jet technology, especially the one currently developed by the University of Cambridge, the DIOSvax technology, uses a predictive method to counteract vaccine escape by encoding antigens that resemble or are similar to the spike protein. Thus proving potentially effective against the range of coronavirus mutations and increasing its spectrum of action. Currently, as per experimental model research and clinical trials, DIOSvax vaccines have seen good usage against alpha, beta, and delta variants as well.


To conclude, these next-generation vaccines delivered through air-jet or applicator technology are not only painless but also hold the key to initiating a mechanism of action against the varying spike protein mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Needle-free vaccines are also beneficial to people suffering from needle phobia. Hence, it would be globally useful to combat coronavirus by providing a broad spectrum of the immune response against the constantly emerging and mutating newer variants of the CoV-2 pathogen, especially in developing countries.

Last reviewed at:
12 May 2022  -  4 min read




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