As the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive and are administered in Ontario, researchers in Waterloo Region are trying to design a needle-free option.
The work is still in the pre-clinical stage and their efforts are highlighting the University of Waterloo's dedication to fighting the pandemic.
"Just within a few days, things ramped up so dramatically," UWaterloo Professor and WIN member Roderick Slavcev said.
Students and staff at the School of Pharmacy were already looking to develop a different type of vaccine to fight respiratory illness before the pandemic began. COVID-19 added fuel to their passion.
"Being part of a global urgency and trying to address a global crisis like this is a privilege," Slavcev said.
A former student, who now runs a spin-off company in Toronto called Mediphage Bioceuticals, is also involved in the project.
"Nasal sprays have been tested before," Nafiseh Nafissi said. "For a few vaccines, there is proof of concepts of their effectiveness and safety, and therefore we are trying to get the vaccine through this route."
The research is in the pre-clinical stage, but the work is providing hope for those working at the school. It also shows how the University of Waterloo is more than just a high-tech hub.
"We hope to demonstrate that Waterloo is just not an IT or engineering powerhouse," Nafissi said. "We can and will also lead the future of medical technologies."
Other departments at UW are collaborating with the School of Pharmacy to work on a needle-free solution to COVID-19.
"We are definitely stronger together because we've gone through an experience like this," Slavcev said. "It's been a testament to what we can do and what we can do together."