Needles are a common phobia that makes getting vaccines or beneficial injections a harrowing deal for many. Even if you are not deathly afraid of needles, who likes the unnecessary pain of getting needles shoved in their bodies? Moreover, since needles essentially wound your body, breaking the protective skin barrier, it also makes you susceptible to infectious pathogens, such as HIV which commonly spreads through infected needles.
Addressing the same issue, the Indian Council Of Medical Research conducted a study to judge the efficacy of needle-free injection systems versus needle injections of the ZyCoV-D vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.
Findings Of The ICMR Study
The study mentioned that the birth of needleless vaccines occurred to make vaccinations less scary. The scientists wanted to see whether needless systems work as well as regular needles for administering a COVID-19 vaccine.
The ICMR scientists tested this new system on 20 monkeys. They split them into five groups. Four groups got the vaccine through the new system in different doses, and one group got salt water instead of the vaccine. The monkeys got their shots on three different days. Then, they were exposed to the COVID-19 virus 15 weeks later. Scientists collected the blood and other samples from the monkeys to see how their bodies reacted.
Advancing Immunization Tech: Needle-free injection systems (NFIS) are gaining ground due to pain concerns & mass immunization needs. ICMR-NIV study dives into NFIS vs. needle injections for ZyCoV-D vaccine in rhesus macaques against SARS-CoV-2. #VaccineInnovation pic.twitter.com/O0tlZSHo59— ICMR (@ICMRDELHI) September 11, 2023
The group that got the highest dose of the vaccine through the new system had the best response, reported the study titled ‘Advancing Vaccine Delivery.’ These monkeys had strong antibodies and had fewer virus particles in their bodies after being exposed.
As per their findings, ICMR hypothesised that needleless vaccines had the potential for advancing immunisation technology, as it offered enhanced immune response and viral clearance, as per their findings.
COVID-19 Nasal Vaccine
This study conducted by ICMR adds to the long list of explorations done by India’s medical community in the field of needle-free immunisation systems. Last year, India took a huge leap in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with the introduction of iNCOVACC, a novel intranasal vaccine.
Developed by Bharat Biotech using a licensed technology developed by the Washington University School of Medicine, iNCOVACC was rolled out into the market as a booster dose for adults across India. At the time, experts had hailed iNCOVACC as a game changer for humanity's fight against the COVID pandemic, as it allowed for a needle-free and painless experience as it had to be delivered as drops through the nose.
iNCOVACC marked a significant leap for Indians, and also for the pharmaceutical game of the world as it was also the first nasal vaccine in the world to be administered as drops.
Similarly, this recent study by ICMR offers hope for a revolutionary move that will provide relief to millions of people in India. Needle-free injection systems have the capacity to catapult the vaccination rates in India, by removing the hesitancy towards injections and the risks of further infections. Additionally, if the needle-free injection systems that could eventually be proposed by ICMR are similar to Bharat Biotech’s iNCOVACC, it could also remove the dependency on the expertise of the health worker administering the dose.