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WHO World Immunization Week 23–30 April 2020 Paper-thin Vaccines

New easier and cheaper way to transport and administer vaccines

01 May 2020

Paper-thin Vaccines

Vaccines are amazing, as long as you can get them. Unfortunately, in certain parts of the world, such as remote regions of low-income countries, access can be tricky. This is in part because vaccines often need refrigeration – making transportation expensive and cumbersome – and because trained health professionals are required to administer injections. By eliminating these requirements, a novel vaccine preparation technique could be set to revolutionise vaccine access. Ditching traditional vials (left), the new approach involves mixing a live viral vaccine with a toffee-like polymer solution that stabilises the virus. The mixture is then poured and dried in thin sheets and cut into single-dose discs (right). These virus-containing wafers, which are administered by dissolving in the cheek, are lightweight, resistant to freezing and high temperatures and have been tested successfully in mice. The next step is human testing and automated production to bring these deceptively simple-looking discs into clinical use.

Marking the end of WHO World Immunization Week 23–30 April 2020

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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