By Ell Ko, 16 Sep 2021
Vaccines are being investigated more today than before thanks to the widespread rollout of COVID-19 doses across the globe.
As crucial as they are, vaccines aren’t the most logistics-friendly piece of medical equipment. Most are required to be kept at very low temperatures, so the mRNA and their protective lipid nanoparticles don’t begin to break down.
As reported by Fast Company, the Moderna vaccine is shipped within -58ºF and 5ºF while the Pfizer option is kept between -130ºF and -76ºF. Both can only last in a fridge for about a month.
This makes transporting them to, and storing them in, remote areas without electricity quite the feat.
There’s also the question of needles, which may be the final hurdle that some have yet to cross to receive the dose.
An alternative method of administration is needed—perhaps it’ll come in the form of an edible vaccine, or perhaps it’ll take the form of this University of California, San Diego concept: a small, sticky patch.
Nicole Steinmetz, director of the University’s Center for Nano ImmunoEngineering, and her team have come up with a fridge-free vaccine developed using viruses from either plants or bacteria. This doesn’t need a needle or to be kept firmly in icy temperatures.
Instead, the vaccines could be integrated into something like an adhesive bandage. These would easily be mailed to the users’ homes, where they’d be able to self-administer them without even needing to leave their room. […]