BANJUL. — A vaccine patch could be a safe and effective alternative way to protect young children against measles, a trial in The Gambia suggests.

The device — the size of a sticking plaster — is easier to transport and store than standard injections, especially in remote areas.

Measles is a very contagious disease which is common in children, and can kill.

Protecting vulnerable children worldwide is a priority, experts say.

Despite the existence of a very effective measles jab, falling vaccination levels since the Covid pandemic have left millions of children unprotected, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. But now, scientists hope micro-needle-patch technology can put vaccinations back on track with 95 percent of children immunised.

The micro-array patch sticks to the arm and lots of microscopic needles deliver the vaccine through the skin, with no pain.

“These are extremely promising results which have generated a lot of excitement,” said paediatrician Prof Ed Clarke, vaccine and immunity lead at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia.

“They demonstrate for the first time that vaccines can be safely and effectively given to babies and young children using micro-array-patch technology.”

In the trial, involving more than 200 healthy toddlers and babies, the immune response to the patch was as strong as to the jab.

After one dose, more than 90 percent of babies were protected against measles and all infants against rubella — and there were no safety concerns.

The patch stayed in place for five minutes – but that will come down to a minute or even less in future trials, the researchers say.

And it could eventually be used against other diseases.

The patch has several advantages over needle injections — volunteers with minimal training can apply the patch, instead of doctors and nurses, and fridges for transporting and cold storage are no longer necessary.

It also reduces people’s fears over needles and the risk of injuries from them. — BBC.

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