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
Ruth is a freelance science journalist based in the US. She's a regular correspondent for The Scientist, and her work has appeared in The Lancet, Nature, Scientific American Mind, BBC Focus and elsewhere. Twitter @rooph